Weak businesses `will be left behind'

Businesses that are not efficient, and banks that are not prepared, will lose out to their competitors under a single currency, according to the report by Professor David Currie, writes Yvette Cooper.

Greater competition and pressure for rationalisation of businesses across Europe will mean that "the inefficient or unresponsive company will find itself under pressure". However, the report says that "the efficient customer- oriented company will have the opportunities of operating across a much larger customer base".

The report says that businesses will benefit considerably from the elimination of uncertainty about exchange rates. It claims that so long as countries in the EMU zone do not introduce further social legislation to burden companies, then "the net benefits to Europe's businesses could be substantial". However, the adjustments that banks and businesses need to make are considerable, whether they will be inside or outside the new EMU zone.

From adapting cash tills to changing computer accounting systems, from changing the denomination of debt to adjusting the timing of financial reports, the report says that anticipating changes will pay off.

Banks are a special case, according to the report, and will need to prepare extensively for the euro regardless of whether they reside in countries that are in or out of the single currency. The report says that increased competition across national borders in the EMU zone will lead to rationalisation and restructuring of the European banking structure, "with more pan-European players together with niche banks".

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