By Daniel Hunter
Ahead of the Prime Minister's long-awaited policy speech on Europe later this month, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has called for a pragmatic re-negotiation of Britain's relationship with the rest of the EU, reflecting the interests of businesses across the economy.
BCC research shows that only 12% of firms want to leave the EU altogether, and only 26% want to maintain the status quo — whereas 47% want to negotiate a looser relationship while remaining a part of the European Union.
More than half of firms (52%) believe that the ongoing uncertainty in the Eurozone will have a significant impact on their business in 2013, and more than one-third (35%) said the disadvantages around the rules and regulations imposed by Brussels now outweigh the benefits of being part of the Single Market.
“After months of endless press speculation, the time has come for the Prime Minister to set out how the government intends to tackle the question of Britain's future place in Europe," John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said.
“Businesses across Britain are pragmatic, and want both a re-negotiated relationship and a reinvigorated Single Market. The Prime Minister should ignore the siren songs of both the Europhiles and the Europhobes, and negotiate a new European settlement that is in Britain's national economic interest.
“Inaction on Europe favours only global companies and the Brussels elite, while sleepwalking towards the exit door without a plan favours no one at all.
“We should not be afraid to set out our stall, because we start with a strong negotiating position. Our trade with the rest of Europe is in deficit, so it is not in Europe's interest to exclude the UK. And if we continue to confidently develop our trade with the rest of the world, as so many companies both small and large have in recent years, our negotiating position becomes even stronger still.”
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