Firms Want To Stay In Europe

Ahead of the CBI’s national conference, the business group reported that staying in the European Union is worth between 4 and 5 per cent of the UK’s annual output and that eight out of 10 of its members, including 77 per cent of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), would vote for the UK to stay in, if a referendum were held tomorrow.

The CBI is the latest group to come out in favour of EU membership, although it is arguing for a renegotiation of the UK’s role, as industry prepares for the in-out referendum promised by David Cameron if the Conservatives win the general election in 18 months.

However, the group is calling for barriers to e-commerce to be removed by the EU, for it to become more outward-looking and for a “re-focus” in the work of EU commissioners and also wants to see a permanent opt-out from the Working Time Directive.

According to Director General of the CBI, John Cridland, the group has looked beyond the political rhetoric to examine the pros and cons of EU membership, and has concluded that the single market is fundamental to the future of the UK.

In addition to the benefits to business and the economy, Mr Cridland argues that membership is worth £3,000 annually to every household in the country. He also says that the UK is better off in a reformed EU than being outside it with no influence.

As EU members such as Germany and France examine a banking union and closer federal ties, the CBI recommends modernising the single market and suggests implementing a market for services and striking trade deals with the US and Japan.