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Business leaders across Europe have given their backing to David Cameron in his quest to secure reforms to the European Union to make it more competitive.

The UK's largest business lobby group, the CBI, and its counterparts in France, Germany, Italy and 17 other Member States, which collectively represent 2.5 million businesses, have published an open letter showing their support for the UK Prime Minister's reform proposals which they say "will make the EU more competitive and outward-looking to deliver jobs, security and prosperity across Europe".

In the letter, the other nations recognise that while the referendum is a matter for the British public, they support the UK’s continued membership of a reformed EU.

The letter reads: "Business is an essential part of the solution to many of the challenges facing the EU but companies need a strong and globally competitive European economy. We therefore want to see a more competitive EU - a key pillar of the UK's negotiations on its EU membership - which will be beneficial for citizens across the continent.

"Looking ahead to the UK's forthcoming referendum, it is for the British people to decide the outcome but European business strongly supports continued British membership of a European Union that takes the necessary reforms to be competitive, outward-looking and continue delivering growth, jobs, peace, security and prosperity for all."

'Real gain'

Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI director-general, said: "“There is a compelling shared benefit for firms to trade with no barriers inside a market of 500 million people and those crucial economic ties which connect us, creating jobs and investment, cannot be taken for granted.

“Improving the EU to make it more competitive in a global economy would be a real gain for firms of all sizes in the UK and across Europe.

“With clear momentum towards a deal that could benefit all Member States, business calls on Europe’s leaders to make good on their promises of reform and deliver the changes that will secure a prosperous future.

“Most CBI members – though not all – want to stay in a reformed EU and we will consult them once again when a final deal is agreed.”

Markus Kerber, director-general of Germany's BDI, said: “A Brexit would lead to a dead end. The BDI calls on the British Government to promote remaining in the EU. Europe needs a strong and critical partner within the EU. Only a unified Europe will be successful on the global scene. A divided Europe will sink into oblivion. In 2050 not a single European country will remain among the nine biggest economies in the world.”