More risks outside than in, says Gill

27 February 1998

More risks outside than in, says Gill

STAYING outside the Economic and Monetary Union carries risks greater than those of joining, insists NFU president, Ben Gill.

"With 11 countries expected to join at the first opportunity, any country which positions itself outside a major common project will be seen as semi-detached, uncommitted and marginal, and its weight in all decisions lessened," he warned.

"Most of our trade is with the EU and it will be easier to secure suitable measures if the UK is seen as a future member of EMU, not a country which has indefinitely postponed that decision."

He also said there would be benefits in joining because there would be greater transparency in trading. For example, pesticide prices in the UK were higher than any other EU member state. These differentials should disappear with a single currency.

But he urged caution when choosing the timing of the UKs entry. "The UK must enter at the right initial exchange rate, and currently, with the strong £, the rate is too high," he said.

lBritain should join the single currency later rather than sooner, Shadow farm minister, Michael Jack, told the conference.

He said the Conservative Party would oppose entry to a single currency in the lifetime of this parliament. And it intended to fight the next election opposing membership of EMU until after the following parliament.

He argued that a full and detailed evaluation programme was needed to quantify risks and benefits of EMU and that this time period would allow the UK to assess how the currency would cope with good times as well as bad.

Mr Jack also said there were dissenting voices among other member states, citing a report by 155 German professors who called for an orderly postponement to EMU because they believed the economic performances of members states were not sufficiently converged.

lAt the end of the conference, 95% of delegates voted in favour of joining the single currency. &#42

NFU president, Ben Gill, said the risks of staying outside EMU were greater than those of joining.

Shadow farm minister, Michael Jack, wants at least an eight-year delay before UK entry into EMU.

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