Businesses welcome EU-UK relationship change

15th April 2013

Businesses broadly support the idea of a 're-negotiation' of the UK's relationship with the European Union, a survey conducted by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has revealed.

Companies believe that re-negotiation, rather than further integration or outright withdrawal, is most likely to deliver business and economic benefits to the UK, according to the BCC's findings.

The majority of businesses (64 per cent) want the UK to remain within the EU but want to see specific powers transferred back from Brussels to Westminster.

According to the survey:

  • Three in five businesses believe full withdrawal from the EU would negatively impact the UK
  • Only 15 per cent of businesses believe staying in the EU with no change to the current relationship would have a positive impact on the UK
  • Changes to employment law (54 per cent), health and safety law (46 per cent) and regional development policies (33 per cent) are highest on the agenda for businesses.

Changes to justice and home affairs policies and public-sector procurement rules were also seen as a priority.

John Longworth, director general of the BCC said: "These findings suggest that UK businesses increasingly feel that some sort of change to Britain's relationship with the EU is needed to boost our trading prospects."

"We now have confirmation of what we've suspected for some time: namely, that employment and health and safety are the areas where companies would like to see legislative competence return to Westminster from Brussels. From a business perspective, any re-negotiation of Britain's relationship with the European Union must therefore focus on these areas which are not integral to the functioning of the Single Market in goods and services."