By Daniel Hunter

Over three-quarters of business managers and owners want the UK to stay in the European Union and fear that leaving could damage the economy, according to research conducted by Key Capital Partners.

KCP’s Growth Panel, a survey of company bosses from across a range of sectors, revealed that businesses are concerned that free trade will disappear and, rather surprisingly, that increased red tape will slow down business.

Businesses currently benefit from universal regulations from country to country in the EU but this could all change if the UK leaves. Quitting the EU would also mean all foreign staff would require work permits, making it difficult for businesses to hire quickly.

Prime Minister David Cameron has promised a referendum on the UK’s future membership of the European Union in 2015.

David Bondi, manager director of TSC Foods, based in Scunthorpe, said: “We are a part of Europe and we need to keep the relationship with continental countries strong. The EU was founded for veryspecific and important reasons and the union has provided security and stability socially, politically and economically.

“We rely on relationships with continental Europe and it would be very wrong to think that trade relationships would remain the same if we left the EU. Free trade would go out the door.”

Owen Trotter, managingpartner of Key Capital Partners, said: “Membership of the European Union is a very divisive issue. The survey shows that this is a concern for businesses, the majority of which focus on the benefits that being an EU member bring. The EU is the UK’s largest trading partner so it is only natural that businesses should be concerned about a possible exit.”

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