Electrical engineers were given a stark warning last week by arch euro-sceptic Sir Alan Walters, former Downing Street economic adviser to Baroness Thatcher during the early 1980s.
The 71-year-old economics professor told the 1,200-strong audience at the Institution of Electrical Engineers’ annual dinner in London that a single currency was a certain path to European political union.
And he described as ‘absolute unmitigated rubbish’ the view that a single currency will be essential to make the single market work.
‘You cannot avoid political union if you have a single currency,’ he said.
‘If monetary union goes through, Parliament will be no longer sovereign. Brussels rules.
‘Think about it carefully, because there is no going back. That’s the nature of the European Union, and that’s the consequence of the single currency.’
David Jefferies, IEE president, noted afterwards that it was clear many members of the IEE in the audience disagreed with Walters’ views.
Siemens which has developed a well-publicised pro-euro stance was strongly represented among the guests, but the IEE itself has yet to take any official position on the single currency.
‘There is no consensus view among our membership,’ said a spokeswoman.
The euro took a step closer last week as the first 10 countries judged eligible to join the euro when it launches on 1 January 1999 were named.
But with just 10 months to go, many UK manufacturing companies have failed to prepare for transactions with suppliers or customers in the new currency.
A report published by the Royal Bank of Scotland and the North West Chambers of Commerce showed that two thirds of manufacturing companies had made no significant preparations for the launch of the currency.
The survey showed that manufacturing firms were expected to be most affected by the euro, with 56% believing it would have a ‘high’ or ‘medium’ impact on their business, compared with 39% of service companies.