The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said that as emerging markets become increasingly dominant, the UK must maximise openness to global trade – and the best way of achieving this is as part of a reformed EU.
The business organisation added that through working with global and domestic businesses of all sizes across the country, it has identified the pros and cons of EU membership in a report entitled
‘Our Global Future: the business vision for a reformed EU’
The report concludes that while there are drawbacks and well-documented frustrations, the benefits of the UK continuing to be part of the EU significantly outweigh the costs. “It is overwhelmingly in our national interest to stay in the EU – but reforms are urgently needed,” states the report.
UK membership of the EU is calculated as worth approximately 4-5% of UK gross domestic product (GDP) every year, or £62bn-£78bn, roughly the size of the economies of north east England and Northern Ireland combined.
“We all need to know where Britain’s future lies in a changing global economy,” said John Cridland, CBI director-general. “We have looked beyond the political rhetoric to examine the pros and cons of EU membership and British business is unequivocal; the Single Market is fundamental to our future.
“We are better off in a reformed EU than outside with no influence. Each year, membership is worth £3000 to every household in this country. But the EU isn’t perfect and there is a growing unease about the creeping extension of EU authority. Europe has to become more open, competitive and outward looking if we are to grow and create opportunities and jobs for all our citizens.”
However, the CBI does not endorse closer integration of the eurozone. “I am clear that the ever closer union of the eurozone is not for Britain,” Cridland added. “The big reform issue is to ensure that Britain’s membership of the Single Market and the EU of the 28 does not become damaged or diluted by the eurozone’s drive for greater integration.”
The CBI adds that the EU must modernise the single market by fully implementing a market for services and creating a digital one, and also secure major trade deals with the US, Japan and others. It is lobbying for reform that ensures the EU recognises and respects the boundaries set by member states, especially the co-existence of countries wanting closer union with those that do not.
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