UK EU membership, stay and push for reform, says CBI

The chief of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) says the UK should stay in the European Union (EU) and push for reform – this would be much better for the UK economy than being powerless on the outside.

The CBI is a leading lobbying organization that speaks for the leaders of some 240,000 businesses that together employ around a third of the UK’s private sector workforce.

Their chief John Cridland made his views known following the release of a CBI report titled Our Global Future and publication of their business vision for a reformed EU, ahead of their annual conference this week.

UK EU membership – leaving not the best deal

He said while the UK could survive outside the EU, none of the alternatives offers a better deal:

“We can’t end up on the fringes of the world’s largest trading bloc, following and paying for all the rules, but setting none,” said Cridland, adding that:

“The UK must stay in to reform the EU – it is in the UK’s national interest and will create jobs and opportunities at home and in Europe.”

“Each year, membership is worth £3,000 to every household in this country.”

The CBI’s vision is that as emerging markets increasingly dominate, the UK must be as open to global trade as it can, and the best way to do this is as part of a reformed EU.

UK EU membership worth 4-5% of GDP

The CBI report highlights research that shows EU membership is worth around 4-5% of UK Gross Domestic Product every year, or £62-78bn.

The report concludes there is no credible alternative to EU membership that brings together the benefits of the UK’s current relationships with none of the costs.

It suggests the EU is increasingly having an impact on regulation not just on those who want to trade inside the EU, but at a global level.

And it says all alternative models would involve the UK having to follow market rules set by others, with no major influence over what the rules say.

John Cridland:

“We all need to know where Britain’s future lies in a changing global economy. 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.”

However, the EU isn’t perfect, he adds, and refers to the growing unease about the creeping extension of EU authority. He says the EU has to become more open, outward looking and competitive, in order to grow and generate opportunities and jobs for all EU citizens.

He also clearly rules out greater integration of the Eurozone – it is “not for Britain,” he says:

“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.”

He urges the EU to modernize the Single Market, by “fully implementing a market for services and creating a digital one,” and also securing major trade deals with the US, Japan, and others.

He says:

“Contrary to popular myth, the UK is influential in the corridors of Brussels and will still be as long as we play our cards right. The Single Market is a great British success story and the best way for us to remain a leader on the world stage is from within the EU.”

On 3rd November, Market Business News reported the CBI recently forecast the UK economy is set to grow at a higher rate through to the end of 2014.