As CEO of a translation business mainly focused on international trade, I have been following the UK general election results with some trepidation. The key issue for our company is the UK relationship with the European Union. This affects business in a number of ways, these are our immediate concerns:
- Uncertainty: a Conservative overall majority, which is looking likely at the time of writing, makes an in/out referendum on EU membership highly likely. I’m concerned about the impact of this on international trade, particularly with new or expanding exporters, who may delay key decisions pending the outcome of a referendum.
- Trading relations with the EU and the Euro Zone, it is obviously very early to judge the likely impact of a decision to leave the EU, but I’m concerned about the impact on the UK. Taking Norway as a precedent, it looks as though we could find ourselves marginalised on the edge of Europe if we manage to retain economic ties from outside of EU membership.
- EU funding: business currently benefits from many EU initiatives to help economic growth. It is unclear what alternatives might be available to EU funds such as the European Social Fund, if the UK was to leave the EU.
- Freedom of movement: it is currently relatively easy for freelance translators and translation industry staff to move between EU member states. Whilst EU migration is often cited as an election issue, and is unpopular with many voters, business benefits in the UK and in other member states, from freedom of movement of labour, as language professionals currently have lots of opportunities to either study or work in other member states, and thereby improve their language skills. This is a significant benefit to the UK economy.
These are a few of my initial reactions to the news, we look forward to seeing how Government policy develops after the election, and specifically, I hope the new Conservative administration has a long hard think about the risks of an EU referendum for the UK economy.