By Daniel Hunter

Ahead of the Prime Minister's speech on the European Union on Friday, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has said that the Government and the EU must focus more to ensure small businesses have the best support and environment in which to grow and create jobs.

The UK's leading small business organisation has been invited to Amsterdam to hear what David Cameron has to say for its members.

With such a diverse membership across the FSB, there are many differing opinions and concerns about the UK's relationship with the European Union. The FSB remains neutral on the constitutional question of whether the UK should be ‘in' or ‘out' and continues to work through its membership of ESBA — the European Small Business Alliance — directly with the European Commission and other EU bodies to encourage them ‘Think Small First'.

The FSB has said its focus remains that as long as the UK is in the EU, it will ensure it does all it can to secure the best for its members and the wider small-business community, especially in preventing onerous regulation, and pressing to further open up the European single market.

Export and global free trade is of major importance to the economy and the single market has an important role to play in that. Generally FSB members find it easier to trade with other EU countries, especially for first time exporters. Nearly a quarter of FSB members export and the vast majority do so within the European Economic Area. Governments around the world need to do all they can to keep markets open and take barriers away.

"There are more than four million people in the UK that are either self-employed or run their own business," John Walker, National Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said.

"Although the single European market gives them access to 500 million customers and 23 million businesses, the burden of regulation - with around half emanating from the European Union itself - falls disproportionately on the smallest firms.

"The Government and the EU must do everything they can to ensure small businesses have the best support, and environment in which they can create growth and jobs so desperately needed, as well as further freeing up barriers to trade, reducing regulation, and supporting local communities."

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