CBI favours remaining in a reformed European Union

The United Kingdom is better off inside than outside a reformed European Union (EU), the CBI (Confederation of British Industry) announced today alongside several of its members from various sectors and of all sizes.

The CBI emphasized the huge benefits for the UK that a market of 500 million customers has. However, it also believes that the trading bloc must reform to work better for British businesses.

Today, the CBI has published ‘Choosing Our Future’, which outlines the benefits of EU membership. It explains that while EU membership has its downsides, the disadvantages are considerably outweighed by the benefits Britain gets in return.

EU cheaper pricesIf the UK left the EU, tariffs would return under World Trade Organizations rules, which would result in higher prices for imported goods and less choice for British consumers, the CBI says. (Image: ‘Choosing our Future’, CBI)

The authors of the report believe Prime Minister David Cameron’s push for reform gives a window of opportunity to expand these benefits further still – before the country’s electorate chooses the nation’s future course in a referendum promised by the end of 2017.

In the document one can find the views of 29 leaders of businesses, who set out both what being a member of the EU means for them, plus what reforms are needed. They come from companies of all sizes, from every part of the UK, and all sectors. They are in charge of hundreds of thousands of British jobs.

The majority of companies that belong to the CBI believe the UK should stay within the EU, the authors write.

Disadvantages of EU membership acknowledged

The business leaders explain that there are disadvantages to belonging to the UK. It means compromising with other nations and not always getting what we want.

If UK leaves EUThe CBI believes that leaving the EU would not result in successful negotiations for effective trade deals. (Source: ‘Choosing our Future’)

The European Union should concentrate on being competitive in a rapidly-evolving global economy. The UK does not want to be part of the need for further integration of the Eurozone countries (the ones whose currency is the euro).

In today’s unstable world, the Union itself faces many challenges.

Leaving the EU is not the answer

However, just as ‘More Europe’ is clearly not the answer for the majority of British people, ‘No Europe’ isn’t either.

Thousands of British businesses thrive because the UK is an EU member – and millions of jobs depend on remaining within the trading bloc.

According to CBI research, EU membership is worth approximately 4% to 5% of the UK’s national income, i.e. about £3,000 for each household annually.

Put simply, their message is that despite the disadvantages, EU membership is a prize worth having.

CBI member, James Wilson, Chief Executive of Palletways, a mid-sized distribution business, said:

“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.”

Jo Dipple, Chief Executive of UK Music, a campaigning and lobbying group, which represents every part of the recorded and live music industry, said:

“We export over 60% of the music made in the UK – our biggest markets are the European Union and America. Access to customers through the EU single market has undoubtedly helped the UK music industry become a world leader.”

A giant marketThe European Union allows UK businesses to sell their goods and services to 8 times the number of customers in the UK alone. (Image adapted from ‘Choosing Our Future’.)

Andy Wood, Chief Executive of Adnams, a medium-sized brewery, said:

“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.”

So, what are the benefits of EU membership?

According to the report, the benefits of being in the European Union include:

– Access to the world’s largest client base (500 million people), which supports more jobs back home.

– British businesses have one set of rules to work by, rather than twenty-eight different ones.

– By being in the EU, the UK attracts more international investment.

– Access to skills so that businesses can thrive.

– Opening up about one third of all global markets for trade.

– Lower prices for customers.

– More choice for customers.

CBI Director-General, John Cridland, said:

“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 8 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.”

“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.”

‘In Campaign’ and ‘Vote Leave’

Earlier this month, the ‘In Campaign’, which is trying to persuade Brits to vote to remain within the EU, announced its new leader will be Stuart Rose (Lord Rose), the former Executive Chairman of Marks & Spencer.

‘Vote Leave’, the cross-party Brexit (Britain exiting the EU) campaign, has the financial backing of several wealthy individuals who historically have heldped fund the election campaigns of the Labour, Conservative and UKIP parties. It is currently backed by Conservatives for Britain, Business for Britain, and the Labour Leave Campaign.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, tipped as the next Tory leader, would like to have the option of two referendums. If the nation votes to leave, a second vote could be used as a weapon to gain more concessions from the EU. However, a Cameron aide said the Prime Minister has ruled this out. There will be no second referendum.

Video – Leaving EU would devastate Britain

In this 2014 interview, CBI Secretary-General, John Cridland, says it is vital that the United Kingdom remains within the European Union.