The recent agreement of a reform package between the United Kingdom and the European Union followed by Prime Minister David Cameron’s announcement that a referendum on the UK’s continuing membership of the European Union will be held on 23 June 2016 has ignited huge debate. This is a vote which will have profound implications for the economies of the UK and continental Europe and, as such, opinions on what is right have stretched from as far afield as Australia and New Zealand to Canada and the United States. President Obama, himself, has set out his preference.
Amec Foster Wheeler has around 15,000 employees in the EU and offices in 15 member countries, including the UK. Our diverse range of customers across Europe includes BP, CGN, EDF, Engie, Hitachi, PGE, RWE, Shell, Toshiba, Total, US Army Corps of Engineers, and many others.
Therefore, Europe is an important geography to Amec Foster Wheeler but how does that translate to membership of the European Union?
The European Union accounts for around 500 million people and represents around a quarter of the world’s GDP. On balance, we believe that it would be better for Amec Foster Wheeler if the United Kingdom remained part of the EU with access to a huge single market, free movement of labour and signatory to a number of free trade agreements. In 2014, just over of half of the UK’s trade was with the EU, while sales to and from 60 other countries are governed by EU agreements.
Ultimately, it will be the British people who decide whether to remain in or leave the EU on 23 June and we believe that the UK will prosper either way. However, the uncertainty the referendum brings about over the next four months and, indeed, the major upheaval and longer period of uncertainty should there be a vote to leave will, in our view, be detrimental.
So on balance it would probably be better for Amec Foster Wheeler for the UK to play a leading role in one of the world’s largest organisations from within.