Businesses continue to back renegotiated EU membership, says BCC

1.      BCC’s EU Business Barometer of more than 3,200 businesses continues to show support for renegotiation with Europe

2.      Most businesses want to remain in the EU, with specific powers transferred back to Westminster

3.      Few businesses want any further integration

4.      The majority of businesses want a referendum

5.      John Longworth: “Ministers must pursue reform and renegotiation as a priority.”

A major quarterly survey of British business has revealed continued support for the renegotiation of Britain’s relationship with the European Union.

The British Chambers of Commerce’s EU Business Barometer Q3 2013, which gathered responses from more than 3,200 businesses of all sizes and within all sectors across the UK, tested five scenarios for Britain’s future relationship with the EU. Respondents were asked to give their view on the potential impact of each scenario on Britain’s business and economic prospects.

The results showed that: 

1.      Businesses want more decisions made in the UK. More than half (57%) of respondents believe that remaining in the EU while transferring specific powers back to Westminster would positively impact the UK’s business and economic prospects. These have previously included health and safety law, and employment law.

2.      Firms feel that fully withdrawing from EU membership would harm UK business interests. A majority (58%) of responding firms believe that leaving the EU would damage the UK’s business and economic prospects. This is up from the 53.6% seen in Q2.

3.      However, further integration is also viewed poorly. Only 7.7% of businesses feel that it would benefit the UK if there was no change to the current relationship, while a plurality (41%) believe that it would hinder the UK’s economic prospects.

Commenting on the results, John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said:

“British businesses continue to remain pragmatic in the face of ever-escalating confusion from politicians and the media over Europe. The majority of UK firms are determined to see a revamped relationship between the UK and the rest of the European Union, with more powers exercised from Westminster rather than Brussels.

“For the quiet majority of companies, the status quo is simply not an option. Nor are the increasingly shrill noises from the hardline pro and anti-lobbies. Ministers must pursue reform and renegotiation as a priority, and ensure that a firm timetable is in place for renegotiation and for any referendum to follow. Businesses need greater clarity in order to plan ahead to invest, and explore international markets both within and outside the EU.a


“For all the public bluster, our survey shows that business continues to support the Prime Minister's objective of a renegotiated settlement with safeguards for the future and a reformed Europe. For this to be successful the European Union must believe that the UK is serious in its desire for change. The Prime Minister should be given the support, time, space and patience required to negotiate a credible deal in Britain’s national interest.”