Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

UK 'should remain at heart of EU'

Britain has a chance to question the foundations of its EU membership but it should remain at the "heart of European influence", the Institute of Directors (IoD) is due to say.

Creating a genuine single market must also be high on the list and it is a "scandal" such a system does not exist for services across Europe 20 years after it was supposed to be completed, the IoD's director general Simon Walker will tell his organisation's annual convention.

Mr Walker will add that Europe has lost its way in too many areas and the IoD backs Prime Minister David Cameron's attempts to renegotiate the terms of the UK's membership. But he is expected to warn there is "very little appetite" in the business community for UK withdrawal.

Chancellor George Osborne, mayor of London Boris Johnson, entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson and shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna are among the speakers at the conference at the Royal Albert Hall, London.

The IoD has around 38,000 members in the UK and overseas.

Mr Walker will say: "In too many areas, Europe has lost its way. Its regulatory and legislative output ties up the efforts of small and medium-sized businesses. Efforts which could otherwise be spent on innovation, expansion and investment.

"The financial crisis, combined with some very real concerns about the politics of Europe, has presented this country with an opportunity to question the foundations of our EU membership. The IoD would be failing its members if we didn't engage in the debate around Britain's future relations with the EU."

He will add: "As business leaders I believe we must make the case for a reformed, more equitable relationship - but one that still has Britain at the heart of European influence. Reform is possible, if the political will exists. The IoD stands four-square behind the Prime Minister in his bid to renegotiate the terms of UK membership.

"High on the list must be the creation of a genuine single market. It's a scandal that 20 years after it was supposed to be completed, there is nothing close to a single market for services across Europe. Whether you're a carpenter or an insurance broker, the single market does little for you."

The IoD conducted an EU survey between February 28 and March 10 in which 1,326 members took part. The organisation says 57% supported Mr Cameron's planned renegotiation while 49% would vote for the UK to remain an EU member if there was a referendum. The survey found 15% would vote for a British exit.


From Belfast Telegraph