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In 2018 we've seen continued recovery in economies with unemployment reducing and generally more business being done across the continent.
However, in the second half in particular we seen a little bit more political instability with the emergence of populist movements particularly in Italy, in Spain and, of course, more recently with the yellow jackets in France.
In 2019 I think there are going to be a number of challenges that our clients will face across Europe.
We've already talked about the political instability and the uncertainty that that brings.
We've got the global macro-economic trends perhaps a slowdown in Asia, trade wars between the US and China, and of course perhaps the biggest threat in Europe is the impact of Brexit as we see trade becoming more difficult cross-border more friction and frankly more uncertainty for businesses to cope with.
So despite the obvious challenges that 2019 will bring I think there are lots of opportunities for our clients I mean the first one is that the underlying strength of the European economy continues to go in the right direction and certainly that's going to bring some natural growth on its own.
The second is Brexit and those clients who are able to adapt to the new trading arrangement whatever that looks like will undoubtedly be at a competitive advantage.
And the third one that I think is really important whether in Europe or anywhere else in the world is around technology.
How can companies innovate use the latest technologies to take their products to market more quickly and certainly take cost out of their own internal operations to improve profitability?
So, at Barclays we really recognise the importance of the European economy and really our role in supporting clients whatever the Brexit outcome is.
We're using our subsidiary in Ireland as a European headquarter.
We're already implementing our Brexit plan and we will be able to support clients no matter what the outcome is.
We’re midway through a plan to roll out a pan-European cash platform across Europe
It's currently live in five countries
By the middle of 2020 it will be live in ten countries giving our clients control flexibility and consistency right across Europe.
And the third element is we are putting more industry specialists into Europe.
So we recognise that as Europe develops and particularly around emerging technologies such as FinTechs and payments businesses that we need to provide the right expertise to our clients as they grow those new innovative businesses.
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