“London and the EU” has found that the UK cannot hope to use Europe as an “à la carte” menu, and must accept the four freedoms of the single market.This includes the free movement of people, which the report has concluded has been overwhelmingly positive for the capital, driving talent and investment. The study, driven by a working group of London First members, including heads of some the capital’s largest companies across a range of sectors, from financial, legal and profession services, to manufacturing and tech. It has found that access to the single market – particularly for services – while maintaining a position of maximum influence within the EU was the most potent combination for London. “One of the main reasons companies come to London is because the city is a springboard to Europe – the biggest economy in the world,” says Baroness Jo Valentine, chief executive of London First. “If we are left outside the EU after a referendum, we would no longer be able to offer that prize to businesses and London would suffer because of it.” The report adds that London’s heavy reliance on the European single market meant the UK needed to have as strong a hand as possible in Europe. It also found that breaking down barriers to the free movement of services (around 800 activities are currently regulated) was key to London’s future development and most likely to happen if the UK was part of the EU. Unlike New York or Hong Kong, London does not have a large domestic economy to take advantage of, making effective access to the Single Market all the more important. The free movement of people has also been a vital part of London’s success, driving talent and investment to the capital.
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