• Businesses stand firm on staying within the EU, but reforms are essential.
• John Longworth, BCC Director General says “whoever forms the next government must put EU reform at the top of the agenda”. It is vital that the next government sets their intentions to protect the United Kingdom against the prospect of being “in a club, where all the decisions are made by, and for, the Eurozone.”
Just one week from polling day, British businesses have delivered a clear message to politicians in Westminster and Brussels alike: they want to stay in the EU, but reforms are essential.
In the largest private sector business survey on the issue of the UK’s relationship in Europe, 55% of bosses said the most positive outcome for their business would be to operate in a reformed EU.
The preference to stay in a reformed EU, is supported by the survey findings that 63% of firms believe withdrawing from the EU would have a negative impact on their business.
Commenting, John Longworth, BCC Director General, said:
“UK bosses continue to tell us that the best scenario for their business would be for the UK to remain in the EU, but with a new relationship.
“The harsh reality is that most politicians and business leaders are unaware of what is happening in Brussels and politicians of all parties are yet to provide a vision of what EU reform means in practice. The completion of the single market is moving forward at a snail’s pace with a risk of unravelling, the eurozone is consolidating and the European Central Bank has taken on a more prominent role. These are all challenging developments.
“If this continues we run the risk of being a member of a club where all the decisions are made by, and for, the Eurozone. Whoever forms the next government must put EU reform at the top of the agenda. We must establish our relationship as a country that is part of the EU, but not part of the monetary union and ensure we have clear safeguards in place to protect ourselves against unwanted further integration. That is the kind of reform that UK businesses need, in order to have the confidence to make long-term plans for growth and prosperity.”
The results showed that:
• Businesses are most positive about remaining in the European Union, but with specific powers transferred from Brussels back to Westminster. 55% of firms view this scenario as positive, 17% no impact, 18% don’t know and 10% negative.
• Businesses reported that withdrawal from the European Union would have the largest negative impact, and more firms have this opinion since the previous quarter. 63% of firms view this scenario as negative (+4% since Q4 2014), 14% don’t know, 12% positive and 11% no impact. • Businesses continue to consider that further integration with Europe would have a negative impact on their business. 38% of firms view this scenario as negative, 24% positive, 20% don’t know and 17% no impact.
• And fewer firms think that remaining in the EU with no change to our current relationship would impact negatively on their business. 36% view this scenario as negative (-5% since Q4 2014), 38% no impact, 15% don’t know and 11% positive.