CBI makes strong case for being in a reformed EU

Posted on 21 Oct 2015 by Jonny Williamson

With the official EU referendum campaigns now launched, the CBI is setting out the business case for why the majority of its member organisations want to remain in a reformed European Union.

Alongside a range of its members from different sectors and of all sizes, the UK’s leading business group is publishing Choosing Our Futurewhich outlines the benefits of EU membership – including access to a market of 500m consumers – but also how the EU must reform to work better for business.

The report highlights the benefits of being in the EU, which include:

  • More customers for business, through the market of 500m consumers, supporting more jobs back home
  • One set of rules for British businesses to work by, not 28 different sets
  • More international investment
  • Access to skills for businesses to grow
  • Opening up a third of the world’s markets for trade
  • Lower prices and more choice for customers

CBI members recognise that there are disadvantages to EU membership including some aspects of legislation which prove a burden to smaller businesses in particular.

That’s why the CBI is calling for reform that ensures the EU works better for business, this includes doing more to open up global markets; reducing and simplifying rules so that firms can grow; and ensuring that non-Eurozone countries remain protected from further integration.

It also argues that the alternatives to full EU membership offer more downsides than upsides.

CBI Director-General, John Cridland added: “The CBI speaks for 190,000 firms of all sizes, in every sector and in every corner of the UK, and most of our companies want the UK to be in a reformed EU.

“For business the benefits of full membership outweigh the disadvantages, but the EU must work better.

“The Single Market has been the solid foundation of our economic success in recent decades, giving us direct access to eight-times more consumers than in the UK alone, and ensuring we can go toe-to-toe with larger economies on major trade deals, creating jobs and economic growth here in the UK.

John Cridland, director general, CBI.
John Cridland, DG, CBI.

“While there are many benefits to EU membership, we should not be blind to the downsides and recognise the EU, like any big institution has its faults and needs to do better.

“The burden of regulation on smaller firms in particular still needs tackling, even if some progress is being made. And the UK must push for reform to make the whole of the EU more competitive in the global economy and deliver a Single Market fit for the 21st Century.”

Commenting on the benefits of membership of a reformed EU, CBI members noted:

“With the simplicity of the EU single market, we have set up hubs for our distribution business in 12 countries and continue to expand. It is more difficult to do this in non-EU countries,” James Wilson, chief executive, Palletways – mid-sized distribution business.

“We are making British beer popular across Europe, selling easily through the EU single market to our largest export market, Sweden, meaning we can continue to grow our 420 strong workforce back home,” Andy Wood, chief executive, Adnams – medium-sized brewery.

“As one of the largest export markets for cars manufactured in the UK, the EU single market is vital to thousands of businesses in the automotive industry supply chain – regardless of whether or not we export directly. Links to the European automotive sector and a successful UK car industry means we have been able to attract global automotive organisations to locate their European R&D operations at MIRA Technology Park in the Midlands,” Dr George Gillespie, chief executive, HORIBA MIRA – car industry supply chain business.

“The European Union must ensure all regulation has a clear goal, is well-designed and enables businesses to grow and create jobs. For example, regulation around common environmental standards has helped to encourage investment in new infrastructure across the EU & UK,” Estelle Brachlianoff, senior executive VP UK&I, Veolia – environmental services business.

“A deal with the US provides a once in a generation opportunity to level the playing field for small British brewers who have to pay 157% more tax than small US brewers. Tackling this inequality could be worth millions to the British beer industry and economy – creating jobs here at home.” Brigid Simmonds OBE, chief executive, British Beer & Pub Association.

“EU trade agreements like the one with the US reduce trade barriers and create significant opportunities for us in the UK with more exports and job creation,” Juergen Maier, chief executive, Siemens UK.

“The European Union should only implement rules that create opportunities for smaller businesses and are not unnecessary burdens,” Mike Kapur, owner, Signum Corporate Communications, and Chair of CBI Small Business Forum.