By Max Clarke

The Government's policies for engaging with Europe are constructive, positive and practical stated the Rt. Hon Vince Cable MP, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills at an event organised by ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and the European Movement.

Delivering the keynote speech at the event, Vince Cable said that despite being formed from a coalition with “eclectic” views on Europe, the Government was determined to adopt a pragmatic, outward-looking approach and would resist the temptation to turn inward.

Dr Cable added that the UK needed to adopt a sense of ‘humility’ in its approach to the EU following what he said was a ‘lecturing’ attitude towards other EU countries from the previous government, which had then gone onto create a massive banking crisis, a property bubble and Europe’s biggest budget deficits.

Turning to questions about the internal market, Dr Cable argued that ‘new dynamism’ was needed to embrace new kinds of commerce; particularly e-commerce.

Mark Gold, President of ACCA, delivered a welcome speech at the event which was also attended by Charles Kennedy MP, European Movement President; and Commissioner Antonio Tajani, Vice-President of the European Commission, responsible for Industry and Entrepreneurship, who delivered the concluding remarks.

Mark Gold said of the event: “It is heartening to hear that the Government is not isolationist or anti-Europe, but wants to engage in a proactive way to ensure that the UK’s views are heard. As President of a global accountancy body, this interconnectedness is important to ACCA and we support the Government in their aims, while of course being a critical friend when and where necessary.”

The importance of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) to Europe’s prosperity was also highlighted at the event. The European Commission’s Vice-President Antonio Tajani, repeatedly stressed the EU’s focus on supporting SMEs. The EU, argued Mr Tajani, was working for a 3rd Industrial Revolution for which innovative and internationalised SMEs would be crucial.

Moving onto ‘red tape’, Mr Tajani said that the EU wanted to back SMEs with ‘new and better’ rules and that the Commission was working to make sure that it ‘Thinks Small First’.

Charles Kennedy MP, President of the European Movement said:

“I am pleased to see the interest generated by this high profile event, and believe it shows the importance that the business community attach to engaging with the EU and working with the Government to find positive ways to improve conditions for commerce across Europe. The European Movement does valuable work to objectively inform the debate around European integration and the benefits the EU can bring to its members.”