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Case made for remaining within trade bloc

CBI warns against ‘off the peg’ alternatives to EU membership

European UnionBusiness organisation the CBI today issues its case for Britain to stay in a reformed European Union by warning of the problems firms would face if it was to pull out.

It says that alternative “off the peg” options, such  do not offer a better package than full EU membership. Following the route chosen by Switzerland and Norway would mean losing the ability to negotiate global trade deals and still being forced to follow EU rules without having any influence.

It points out that it took nine years for Switzerland to negotiate partial access to the EU’s single market, while Norway is the 10th highest contributor to the EU budget even though it is not a full member.

Britain would have to comply with EU rules even if it was no longer a member and it would have to negotiate separate deals with other trading nations and blocs which could potentially take years and add to costs.

“While the EU is far from perfect, the benefits of the European Union outweigh the disadvantages. And the Prime Minister’s push for reform can help maximise those benefits,” says the CBI report, Choosing Our Future.

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

  • More customers for business, through the market of 500 million consumers, supporting more jobs back home
  • 1 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.

John Cridland, CBI Director-General, says: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.”

 

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