Conference: How important being member of the EU is to the UK



Responding to the Euro Crisis: An Agenda for Trade, Jobs and Growth

At Labour Party Annual Conference the EPLP and FEPS brought together leading thinkers from the UK and Europe to discuss with a large gathering of conference participants how European social democrats articulate a response to the Euro crisis based on trade, jobs and growth.

Larry Elliott- Guardian Economics Editor - Set the mood of the current debate in the UK and reminded us if the dangerous effects the eurozone crisis is having on our neighbours and Britain.

Phillip Souta - Director of Business for New Europe - gave the example of business as to why it would be unquestionable for the UK to leave the EU. He suggested the Labour Party should be “bold and clear” on Europe. Philip Souta lso underlined the importance of being ‘at the table’ so Britain can have influence on important matters to the UK such as the EU budget.

Arlene McCarthy MEP - EPLP Economic Spokesperson  - Promoted the need for more growth, jobs and investment and illustrated that right-wing austerity policies across Europe are damaging these. Arlene brought the debate into a clear Labour, perspective on our values which are also the same values on which the EU was founded, those of solidarity, fairness, equality, responsibility. Amongst other things, it was also mentioned the need for a reform of the structural funds to enhance regional development in a better manner.

Ernst Stetter - General Secretary, Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS)   - emphasised that we need more confidence in our economic policies. Large private savings and low investments indicate that liquidity and capital are present, but confidence is lacking to spend or invest. With a growth rate of nearly zero forecast by the OECD for Europe, the need for rethinking our strategy on austerity measures is evident. Business cannot expand if there is no growth. He appealed for a more  common progressive European programme and for this requested more visibility and capacity to be given to the Party of European Socialists to enable this.

David Martin MEP - EPLP Trade Spokesperson –  Also reiterated the need for Europe to promote more growth in the region. He made it clear that trade negotiations are better if we act as a block, especially now where emerging developing countries are changing the power balance. Yet also more importantly large companies produce the different parts to make a final product over different continents. In this respect it is very important that the UK with the EU has authority to ensure the checks and balances of these products are satisfactory for our consumers.

Many questions were put to the panel from the audience, amongst other things, concerning youth employment, intellectual property rights and the European Investment Bank as a possible vehicle for driving private and public investment.