Firms urged to lead the euro campaign

Exporters warm to the prospect of single European currency

By Paul Carslake

British industrialists have been urged by a leading member of the European Parliament to help persuade their employees of the virtues of the forthcoming single European currency, the euro.

Alan Donnelly, the parliament’s spokesman for economic, monetary and industrial affairs, told British engineering bosses visiting Brussels last week that they had ‘a crucial role to explain to the workforce why the euro is important’.

He said any referendum on the euro conducted now would see people voting on an ill-informed basis.

‘If one polled people at the factory gates now, the majority would probably say no. But if the management of that company spelled out the economic implications on jobs, the majority of workers would probably vote yes,’ he said.

The latest survey by Gallup for DHL, carried out in January, showed exporters warming to the prospect of the single currency. The poll indicated that 69% saw UK participation in the single currency as ‘helpful’, a significant increase on the 58% who held that view last May.

Among the public at large, levels of acceptance are considerably lower, but the trend is moving in a pro-euro direction.

A Mori poll published this week for the cross-party European Movement showed 44% of voters strongly or generally pro-euro, with 47% strongly or generally against. This compares with figures of 41% and 52% respectively last July.

Pro-euro business leaders believe rejection of the euro in a referendum would have severe consequences. ‘It would be the nightmare scenario – disastrous,’ said Graham Mackenzie, Engineering Employers Federation director general, representing nearly 5,000 engineering companies.

Analysis, page 16