Alex Robertson: Is Britain’s place in Europe?

Exhibition
Euro-new-resized.jpg

It is a critically important period for the British exhibition industry, as the country comes to its decision whether or not to stay in the EU. Alex Robertson, former managing director of JMT Indisplay gives his thoughts on the referendum.

 

Unlike the European elections, this poll is likely to be a hotly contested question, almost irrespective of what David Cameron manages or fails to negotiate for the UK, at the European Council in December.


To say that European Union membership is an emotive issue is a colossal understatement, and the passion that’s evident on both sides of this debate means that the national conversation about the EU isn’t likely to centre on rational and reasoned debate, when in reality that is exactly what it must do.


In 2017, either in May or September, the referendum will pose the question whether the UK should stay in the EU or rescind its membership in favour of a position like that of Norway or Switzerland. From my perspective, this will not be a difficult question – my cards are already on the table in this respect. I will be voting for the UK to remain in the EU, and I sincerely hope that everyone in the event and exhibition industry will be doing the same.


Everyone who intends to vote to stay in the EU must recognise the depth and breadth of anti-EU sentiment in the UK, and the valid reasons for it. The EU is a vast and wasteful bureaucracy, common agricultural and fishing policies are fraught with problems, the union’s accounts have not been signed off for 19 consecutive years and the European Commission remains an unelected and unaccountable body. The point to make here is that although there’s ample room for improvement and major reform, there’s only one place where Britain can help solve these problems and that’s from within the Union as a full member.


The positives arising from EU membership might not be as obvious as the problems, but that is largely because we have, over the last 40 years, come to take the benefits for granted. As a European company, JMT Indisplay has an EU wide organisation and an EU wide customer base. Well over half of our top customers are in mainland Europe, and the ease with which our workforce and stock can travel across European borders is central to our success. Harmonised employment and trade law across the continent gives us a broad and stable foundation for business. Even though Britain never joined the Euro, it has still been a huge advantage of the union to providing continentally consistent pricing and wages across the continent, without incurring exchange fees and falling foul of multiple currency fluctuations.


We’ve discovered that there are real challenges to working in Europe but outside the EU in places like Switzerland with its levies and import taxes on goods, services and even rental items. There’s little reason to believe the same would not hold true of European companies working in Britain after a British exit from the EU.


The free movement of people, goods and services across the whole union is a central tenet of the project and the single most valuable and prized advantage of being a member.


This means we can source the right personnel wherever we are in Europe, and take advantage of competition in the labour market at home.
Business depends on these freedoms. With English firmly ensconced as the international business language, Britain is the natural entry point into Europe for businesses in Canada, the US and Australia, and a popular one for businesses worldwide.


As the referendum nears, the voices for and against Britain remaining a member will become more shrill and urgent, with scare stories and appeals to emotion vying with one another to motivate the British public one way or the other. I’d urge everyone to ignore this cry, and focus on the practicals.


British exhibition businesses, especially those involved in working overseas, will suffer enormously if Britain leaves the EU. When the time comes in 2017, I hope you’ll vote for Britain to remain a member.

What do you think #eventprofs? Send your thoughts to abyrne@mashmedia.net.

 

This column was first published in the November 2015 issue of Exhibition News.

Alex Robertson
Posted by Alex Robertson
PopularComments
Twitter Facebook Google+ LinkedIn

Related Stories

Tim Banfield leaves ACC Liverpool for Doncaster Racecourse

Tim Banfield has left his post of commercial director at ACC Liverpool and undertaken a new challenge as executive director at Doncaster Racecourse and Exhibition Centre.

Reed launches SUMS alongside All-Energy 2017

The inaugural Smart Urban Mobility Solutions (SUMS) exhibition and conference will co-locate with All-Energy 2017, organiser Reed Exhibitions has announced.

Full Circle Events expands with new Midlands office

Full Circle Events has announced the opening of its new office in Coleshill, Warwickshire to support the on-going expansion of the business.

Others on EN

10 years in the making

10 years in the making

As the association has gone from strength to strength over the last 10 years, Andrew Harrison, ESSA director talks achievements, expertise and knowledge.
The Dealmaker in January

The Dealmaker in January

Steve Monnington of Mayfield Media Strategies runs the rule over the latest global exhibition deals.
‘We are the torchbearers’

‘We are the torchbearers’

Julian Agostini, Mash Media MD, on the importance of sticking to your guns and not making excuses.

WATCH THE EN AWARDS 2016 HIGHLIGHTS


silverstream.tv

Most Read Stories

Lourda Derry: Making the connection

Lourda Derry: Making the connection

Lourda Derry, director of Easyfairs UK addresses the science behind operations and the profile of our audiences.
Steve Monnington: The Dealmaker in March

Steve Monnington: The Dealmaker in March

Steve Monnington of Mayfield Media Strategies, runs the rule over the latest global exhibition deals.
Helen Lowe: Marketing déjà vu

Helen Lowe: Marketing déjà vu

Helen Lowe, events and marketing manager at Europa International, talks about the importance of keeping up with the creativity amidst the chaos.

Latest News

Fast Forward 15 encourages future female talent to apply

Fast Forward 15 encourages future female talent to apply

Industry initiative Fast Forward 15 is looking for its third intake of mentees.
ESSA partners with Department for International Trade

ESSA partners with Department for International Trade

The Event Supplier and Services Association (ESSA) has announced it has entered into a partnership with the Department for International Trade (DIT) aimed at giving members resources for overseas trading.
Hiring companies announced for The Eventice

Hiring companies announced for The Eventice

Apprentice-style competition The Eventice has announced that Bluehat Group, Artexis Easyfairs and Identity Group will be offering event industry roles to the winners.

Latest Features

The art of brewing

The art of brewing

If you’re having a dry January, look away. Thirsty ale lovers read on for a taste of the upcoming Manchester Beer and Cider Festival.
Last Word with Ed Tranter

Last Word with Ed Tranter

The managing director of MA Exhibitions on his ocean blue Gibson Les Paul, wanting a licence to kill and being pen pals with the Queen.
My Working Life by Thomas Standley

My Working Life by Thomas Standley

The managing director, Technology, CloserStill Media on being an Essex boy with a Suffolk twist, his love of cooking and having a potty mouth.

Latest Galleries

London Boat Show 2017

London Boat Show 2017

Award-winning British actress Joanna Lumley OBE was on hand when the London Boat Show officially opened to crowds at ExCeL London.
NHM’s last dance with Dippy

NHM’s last dance with Dippy

The Natural History Museum hosted a New Year celebration for 600 revellers to make history and be part of the final event with the iconic Dippy the Diplodocus in the Hintze Hall.
Christmas lunch at ExCeL

Christmas lunch at ExCeL

Mash Media, ExCeL London and Brand Events came together with other industry bodies to host a festive lunch across East End London for Newham communities.