Speaking at the opening of this year’s Confederation of British Industry (CBI) conference in Manchester, Sir Nicholas Scheele, Ford Motor Company’s President and Chief Operating Officer has today called for the British government to hold a referendum on Britain joining the euro currency.

In a conference keynote address, he said: “At this point, every minute of delay in adopting the euro is detrimental to our employees, our business partners, our customers, and all those people touched by our presence – as well as to Ford and to the many other companies that need a stable and competitive landscape”.
Scheele said that membership benefits to Britain from adopting the euro would include higher living standards “as markets opened wider, as economies of scale flourished, and as trade and competition influenced efficiency and prices”.

Scheele also said that “producing in a sterling-based economy and exporting the product to a nation that deals in euros is the equivalent of paying a tax of about 25 per cent – an absolutely incredible penalty”.

In calling for Britain to join the euro, Scheele was clear that the matter was one that should ultimately be decided by the British people:  “It is entirely appropriate that this issue will ultimately be decided in a popular referendum.  Because no matter how much the debate is framed in references to competitiveness or trade and economics, the impact still comes down to people, and their lives and their futures.”

Ford exports more than 80% of the Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles made in Britain and has been a keen supporter of Britain in Europe, the pro-euro campaign group.

Scheele has said recently that Ford had made strategic assumptions that Britain would enter the single currency between 2004 and 2006 and, the longer the country remained outside the euro zone, the longer Ford would suffer a competitive disadvantage against European manufacturers.

“We cannot overcome this competitive disadvantage,” Scheele has warned.

Ford, Nissan and Toyota have been the most outspoken auto industry advocates of euro entry for Britain. Honda, by contrast, is adopting a more neutral stance.