BRITISH BUSINESSES SEEK RE-NEGOTIATION WITH EU

Businesses are in favour of re-negotiation Britain’s status in the EU, a new survey into British businesses has revealed.

Almost 4500 businesses responded to the British Chamber of Commerce’s new “EU Business Barometer” survey, the first of its kind since the Prime Minister’s policy speech on Europe in January.

In general, the results show that businesses think Britain should re-negotiate its position within the EU. The top options were:

1. Britain should remain in the EU, but with specific powers transferred back from Brussels to Westminster  – agreed with by 64 percent of respondents.

2. Britain should withdraw from the EU – disagreed with by 60 percent of respondents.

3. Britain should remain in the European Union with no change to its current relationship – agreed with by just 15 percent of respondents.

The survey also revealed the top priorities of British business if re-negotiation takes place being employment law, health and safety law and regional development policies.

Other areas where significant numbers of respondents want change included justice and home affairs, policies and public sector procurement rules.

Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce John Longworth said: ““These results say a lot about the UK business community’s attitudes towards Britain’s relationship with the European Union. Companies believe that re-negotiation, rather than further integration or outright withdrawal, is most likely to deliver business and economic benefit to the UK.

“There are some striking features in our survey of business opinion. 42%, a plurality, now believe that maintaining the status quo in Britain’s relationship with the EU could have a negative impact on our economic interests – nearly three times as many as the 15% who view the status quo positively. These findings suggest that UK businesses increasingly feel that some sort of change to Britain’s relationship with the EU is needed to boost our trading prospects.

“We now have confirmation of what we’ve suspected for some time: namely, that employment and health and safety are the areas where companies would like to see legislative competence return to Westminster from Brussels. From a business perspective, any re-negotiation of Britain’s relationship with the European Union must therefore focus on these areas which are not integral to the functioning of the Single Market in goods and services.”

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