Wednesday, 19 June 2013

The UK EU Relationship: Divorce, separation or reunion? Discussions at the GBF

I’ve been concerned about the singular lack of any real debate on the proposed UK referendum  on Britain’s role in the European Union. Thus, this year’s annual conference of the German British Forum ( was a real magnet to me. The topic was “The European Single Market and the Future of British Manufacturing”. High level keynote speakers from both Germany and the UK promised some real relevant information.

The event took place in Stationers’ Hall, a stone’s throw from St Pauls. A little gem in itself, there is an article on the Hall with photos available here:

The event covered four main sections:
  1. Competitiveness challenges in the European automotive sector – German and UK industry strategies
  2. The vital place of the single market in the new Europe – Keynote speech by Rt Hon Lord Owen
  3. The European economy and the importance of the single market
  4. The future of the Euro area – What kind of Europe do we want? What kind will we get?

Looking back on my notes, the insights gained came in a slightly different order.

1. The future of the Euro area

There was one clear message here: The current economic crisis was on the one hand pushing the Eurozone harder towards centralisation and on the other, revealing the stress fractures between and within nations. Indeed, there was a clear fear that under the pressure to survive, the Eurozone was dropping economic elements of “competitiveness” and “subsidiarity” and replacing them with a political “harmonisation”. At one particular point I was reminded of the poem by Baldrick of Blackadder fame: “Doom, Doom! Doom, Doom, Doom…”.

This was of course contrasted with the economic realities in the UK and Germany.

2. Competitive challenges in the European Automotive sector

Speakers from major automotive companies and their 1st and 2nd tier suppliers actually had a more optimistic note now after the harsh recession in the past decade. Transport is one of the major industries in the European single market. The German automotive sector is on the up again and Britain’s suppliers to the industry are also increasing trade. Three aspects were seen as of major importance to the future of the industry:

  • Major investment in Research and Development
  • Training of highly qualified staff
  • The need for a period of political stability and longer term thinking.

Moving on, we considered the broader aspects of the UK’s benefits of being within Europe

3. The European Economy and the importance of the single market

This session began with great humour by our Eurosceptic UK delegate, John Redwood; Joking that where before he was seen as on the far right and now he is being criticised for being too middle of the road.

However the highlight for me was the presentation by Dr Rebecca Harding of Delta Economics. Her talk was full of more real data than I could record. Here are just some of the key points:

  • 34% of world trade originates in Europe ($55 trillion).
  • Europe predominately exports to itself.
  • New accession countries like Poland and the Czech Republic are undergoing dramatic growth
  • The economics of scale affect logistics and supply, thus the EU dictates patterns of trade in pharmaceuticals, cars and oil globally.
  • The EU uses its union to strengthen its global supply chains . 

The remainder of the session echoed the need for longer term political and economic stability. The proposed UK referendum on Europe and the current negative political agitation were introducing a level of uncertainty.

So what was the solution that would address both concerns of the UK’s Eurosceptic majority and allow businesses and the UK economy to benefit from the European single market?

4. The vital place of the European market in the New Europe. A Solution?

Lord Owen’s speech suggested a practical and welcome solution (see further down). Taking us back through some of the EU’s history, Lord Owen reminded us that the current “In or Out” black and white perspective of the EU was inaccurate. The different nations within the EU had always had a plethora of sometimes conflicting attitudes and required solutions. This was reflected by the different agreements in place; from the Schengen free trade area, the EU Customs Union, the Eurozone to the European Economic Area.

Wikipedia has this excellent graphic illustrating this point by author Wdcf:

Lord Owen recognises that

  • All European countries benefit from the single market.
  • A number of EU countries are working towards political and economic union, as the Eurozone.
  • The UK and some other countries wish to retain control over their own political and economic affairs.

The proposed solution is:

  • To use the current framework of existing agreements to strengthen the membership and voice of countries within a restructured European Economic Area, as the single market.
  • Whilst allowing the economic and political union of the Eurozone members to continue as one major bloc within the restructured EEA.

This requires strong but constructive negotiation by the UK prior to the proposed referendum.

At the meeting itself, I was initially sceptical of the proposal.  This was primarily because it may be difficult to get the message across to a Eurosceptic electorate. The current public thinking is simplistic in terms of “in or out of the EU referendum”.

Now, I am gradually coming around to the idea.


For the UK business community, it is essential that we give our political leaders a clear message: The UK economy is far better off within a European single market with a UK voice, than out on a limb on our own.

This meeting of the 18th Annual Conference of The German British Forum was a timely event prior to the run up to the future UK referendum on Europe.

Recommended reading: “Europe Restructured” by David Owen- For a more considered view of Lord Owen’s arguments than could be presented here.


  1. Thank you Chris - Timely comment which puts the whole matter into a somewhat clearer perspective.

    As for David Owen - now there is a man I am always happy to listen to. Indeed amongst current British politicians (and indeed a few no longer on the scene, Mr Owen to me stands out as one of a very few deserving of the title "Statesman"

    1. I saw a comment here few weeks ago about Dr Agbazara and i decided to contact him as instructed, thanks to this man for bring joy to me as wished for. i followed instructions which he gave in other to get my lover back who left me and the kids for 3years now, but thanks to Dr Agbazara because they are back to me now for good and we are happy together. please do contact him for help too if in relationship problem via email at: ( ) OR Via WhatsApp on: ( +2348104102662 ). And testify for yourself.

  2. Chris,
    This is a masterly synopsis of what must have been a very interesting meeting.
    I have to hope that there are others who see the need to cut through political agendas to inform the British electorate fully about the consequences of the vote, whichever way the majority runs, and the implications of change.

  3. Thanks Ruth and Brian :-). Am currently wading through Lord Owen's book.

  4. I never believed in love spells or magic until i met this spell caster once when i went to Africa in February this year on a business summit. I meant a man who’s name is (Great Matatan powerful Spell ), he is really powerful and could help cast spells to bring back one’s gone, lost, misbehaving lover and magic money spell or spell for a good job or luck spell .I’m now happy & a living testimony cos the man i had wanted to marry left me 3 weeks before our wedding and my life was upside down cos our relationship has been on for 4 years. I really loved him, but his mother was against us and he had no good paying job. So when i met this spell caster, i told him what happened and explained the situation of things to him. At first i was undecided, skeptical and doubtful, but i just gave it a try. And in 7 days when i returned to Sydney, my boyfriend (now husband) called me by himself and came to me apologizing that everything had been settled with his mom and family and he got a new job interview so we should get married. I didn’t believe it cos the spell caster only asked for my name and my boyfriends name and all i wanted him to do. Well we are happily married now and we are expecting our little kid, and my husband also got the new job and our lives became much better. His email is:( .  )  

  5. Dr.Agbazara is a great man,this doctor help me to bring back my lover Jenny Williams who broke up with me 2year ago with his powerful spell casting and today she is back to me so if you need is help contact him on email: ( ) or call/WhatsApp +2348104102662. And get your relationship problem solve like me