• BCC publishes its latest EU Business Barometer to coincide with key appointments to top EU positions at the European Council meeting
• The results indicate a growing level of support for a renegotiated relationship with the EU
• Businesses want to remain in the EU, but with more powers transferred back to Westminster
As the key appointments to top European Union (EU) positions have been announced at the European Council meeting, the British Chambers of Commerce is today releasing the results from its latest “EU Business Barometer”. The survey of more than 3,200 businesses across the UK tested five scenarios for Britain’s future relationship with the EU, asking respondents to give their view on the potential impact on Britain’s economic prospects.
The results showed that:
• A growing number of businesses support a re-negotiated relationship with the EU. More than half (60%) of respondents, an increase of 6% since Q1 2014, believe that remaining in the EU while transferring specific powers back to Westminster would positively impact the UK’s business and economic prospects.
• Majority of firms feel that withdrawing from EU membership would harm UK business interests. 59% of responding firms believe that leaving the EU would damage the UK’s business and economic prospects. This is down from the 61% in the previous quarter.
• However, further integration is also seen as having a negative impact on UK business. Almost half of firms surveyed (46%) believe that further integration with the EU would hinder the UK’s economic prospects.
Commenting, John Longworth, BCC Director General, said:
“These results show that firms believe a renegotiated relationship with the EU, rather than further integration or outright withdrawal, is most likely to deliver economic benefit for the UK. They do not want to get caught up in the whirlpool of further integration - only 20% of those firms we surveyed felt that this would be beneficial. Yet the same companies say they do not want to rush for the exit.
“Unless the European Union is perceived to function in the interests of all of its member states, it will continue to lose legitimacy not just among the voting public but among businesspeople as well. The prospects for UK business and trade would be improved substantially if meaningful EU reform were to take place. Too many services companies, which together form the backbone of the UK export base, remain frustrated by the slow progress of the single market in services.
“Yet the completion of the Single Market, no matter how huge an opportunity, is not the most important element of any negotiations the Prime Minister undertakes with the UK’s European partners. The top priority must be to secure safeguards for Britain against decisions the EU is yet to take. This will prevent Britain from the tangle of an “ever-closer union” that the Eurozone will inevitably now pursue.”