Medium-sized businesses in the UK have experienced less change in competition, labour supply and outsourcing conditions as a result EU enlargement than any of their European competitors.
According to new research by accountants Grant Thornton, just 17 per cent of UK businesses have noticed increased competition in their home market, and 12 per cent in the EU market since 2004 – compared to respective EU averages of 35 and 32 per cent. The numbers noticing a cheaper (21 per cent) and larger (28 per cent) labour pool were, however, just two percentage points shy of the EU average in each instance.
Interestingly, just 36 per cent of medium-sized businesses in the UK claimed to have suffered more regulation since enlargement – compared to 62 per cent in Ireland and 54 per cent in Germany.
Support for the euro has, however, slumped. In 2003, 50 per cent of midsized British business owners wanted the UK to join the euro; a figure that has now collapsed to 35 per cent. Regional differences in the UK were not particularly marked, with most areas around the 29-34 per cent in favour mark, except for Northern Ireland, where 58 per cent of businesses wanted to join the euro and the South West, West and Wales, with 42 per cent saying “oui”.