Press Releases

HISTORIC PRESS RELEASE : In or Out Britain must be ready for EMU – Helen Liddell takes EMU debate to Scotland [October 1997]

The press release issued by HM Treasury on 8 October 1997.

Helen Liddell takes EMU debate to Scotland

The decision to join EMU will centre round one simple question What is best for Britain?”, Economic Secretary, Helen Liddell said today.

Speaking to an audience of businessmen and women and local authority leaders in Glasgow the Minister re-affirmed that the Government’s position had not changed and that there remained formidable obstacles to entry in the first wave.

Mrs Liddell said:

“We will keep our options open. Take the right decisions at the right time. Not weaken our negotiating position.

“We must be confident that the single currency will deliver higher growth, stability and a lasting increase in jobs for the UK.”

Britain’s decision to join would be set against five key tests – tests that would ensure that our best interests are protected. The Minister went on to outline those tests:

“What’s best for Britain means what’s best able to provide more jobs, secure jobs, greater prosperity, higher growth and economic stability, without ever weakening or damaging our democracy.

“EMU must create better conditions for investment, have a     beneficial effect upon our financial services, which are unrivalled in Europe, be flexible enough to deal with problems as they arise and ensure that the business cycles and economic structures of the UK and the rest of the membership of the EU look likely to remain compatible.”

For countries to benefit from EMU there has to be genuine convergence among the economies taking part. EMU must be built on the strong foundation of long-term growth and jobs in Europe, the Minister said.

She continued:

“Every single country in Europe, whether or nor they intend to join in the first wave, has a strong vested interest in ensuring that EMU goes ahead on a sustainable basis and is good for prosperity, jobs and stability.

“Currency union is not a  suck it and see’ option.”

The Minister also set out the measures which the Treasury had taken to widen the debate on EMU. She said:

“We want to make sure that the people, as well as business, have the maximum understanding of what a single currency will mean.”

The measures include:

  • a summary of the Currie report on the pros and cons of EMU. 17,000 copies have been sent to businesses, universities, schools and the wider public;
  • a practical guide for businesses to inform them about  preparations they need to make for EMU. 35,000 copies  have been sent out; and
  • a new advisory group, appointed by the Chancellor, to examine the practical implications for business of EMU.

The Economic Secretary was also clear that flexible labour markets are very important to creating and maintaining jobs but she also stressed that flexibility means the right conditions for workers and must not be a short cut to low employment standards.

The Minister also said:

“We are clear that we need to set a new agenda for employability growth, job creating adaptability and social inclusion in Europe.”

In her speech Mrs Liddell went on to outline what the Government means by employability’ – ensuring that people have the skills, knowledge and adaptability to enable them to get a job and keep it.