In The Press

EU Membership Is a Boon For Britain (in Wall Street Journal)

1 July 2009

It is ironic that there is still so much ambivalence and hostility toward the European Union at a time when the direction of travel has been toward Britain ("The Dis-Uniting Kingdom," State of the Union, June 30). Since 2004, the EU has expanded to 27 member states and has made progress on strengthening the single market, such as the services directive which liberalized services, accounting for 70% of the European economy.

Developments in the area of financial services illustrate that the debate has moved in a Britain-friendly direction. Britain's financial industry is an important component of the European economy and London has established itself as the leading financial market in the EU. The single market and in particular the free movement of capital has been integral to that process. The corollary of the single market is regulation, and again many of the efforts to coordinate the regulatory structure have helped the development of financial services. Obviously the financial crisis has necessitated some new thinking and changes to the regulatory system. But rather than a federalized single regulator, many of the ideas being considered aim to increase coordination as well as strengthen warning systems. Such measures could make the British financial services industry even more robust to withstand economic turbulence. While there are specific regulatory threats such as the directive on Alternative Investment Fund Managers, the EU can manage overall to help rather than hinder Britain's financial services dynamism.

Zaki Cooper
Director, Business for New Europe

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