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Interview to the Consul of United Kingdom, by Pietro Stroppa
Focus on Europe

28 December 2007

Interview to the Consul of United Kingdom, by Pietro Stroppa

In order to obtain more in-depth information for our survey, we interviewed the British general Consul in Milan, Mr. Peter Carter:

How is the current economic situation in Britain?
“Over the last 25 years, Great Britain has undergone a transformation, passing from an economy based on a traditional manufacturing industry to a dynamic economy that focuses on services and high technology; our government has promoted a “knowledge-driven economy” in which know-how and research play a fundamental role. The reason is clear, the production of goods in China, Bangladesh or in other Asian countries involves much lower labour costs than ours and we have, therefore, promoted a value added manufacturing industry that requires more technology and experience on a labour level than our country is capable of offering. Our winning card has been that of attracting foreign investments: as far as we, in Great Britain are concerned, a priority issue is not so much that companies are owned by British subjects but rather that the know-how and technology are ours and that companies guarantee employment. Another important factor which, together with other initiatives, enabled us to overcome the crisis of the Sixties and the Seventies, is increased flexibility in the workplace: we offer part-time, fixed-term and job sharing contracts. Our banking system has been liberalized and, generally speaking, there is much less red tape. Since 2004, Great Britain has opened its doors to Europe, welcoming approximately half a million immigrants from new Eastern European member states. These individuals are highly motivated and have integrated well into the system, particularly in the services sector, hotels, restaurants, etc. However, as regards the two new entries from Bulgaria and Romania, the government has now decided to limit the number of permits in order not to overload the capacity of our economy and our social services.”

Future prospects:
“I think that we have made the right decision and if we continue to make an effort, as we have done over the past few years, the future will be positive with stable growth on a national level. Obviously, as in every country, there are problems such as, for example poverty, which the government has committed to combating with various initiatives, or public health and education, which has to prepare today’s young people for a future in which technical know-how is increasingly important. These are challenges that the government has taken very seriously and which it intends to face in order to enable our country to grow and prosper. As regards changing over to the Euro, this is only likely to happen when our economy is aligned with the European economy. Traditionally speaking, in terms of our economic cycle, Great Britain is similar to America and, therefore, some changes will have to be made. Even though we have not yet adopted the Euro, we are heavily involved in the European Union and we have also pushed for extension of membership towards other countries, including Turkey. It is important that the various member states are farsighted enough to ensure the compatibility of national interests (e.g. safety, the economy, strategic industry and agriculture) with community interests.”

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