Barely a month goes by without fresh calls for the UK to leave the European Union (EU) or at least stage a referendum on the subject.
The issue has come even more to the forefront with the emergence of the anti-EU UKIP as a political party.Two recent polls have indicated that public support of the UK’s membership of the EU is rising.
If Britain held a referendum now, voters would go 50% against 41% in favour of keeping the status quo, with 9% still unsure. That’s according to a Pew Research poll published on Monday (May 19).
Another survey shows the public even more pro-Europe with a 54%-37% split, research by Ipsos MORI found.
It’s a similar story among small businesses, according to a survey from the Quoted Companies Alliance (QCA) and BDO. Nine in 10 SMEs (small and medium enterprises) think it would benefit the UK to stay in the EU, while just 4% of SMEs think we should leave the union altogether.
The EU is a single market political and economic union comprising 28 members which adhere to a universal network of laws. Most of the nations use the EU’s euro currency.
The UK, under Edward Heath’s leadership, joined the EU’s forerunner – the European Economic Community (EEC) – in 1973. The EU became formally ratified in 1993.
The union’s main advantages are seen as being economic and political, bringing closer trading ties between countries and helping to form an economic superpower to rival the US and China.
With the recent rapid growth of globalisation and technology bringing trading links closer together, the benefits of the union are appearing even more tangible.
Such strength in numbers, especially in a collective including economic powerhouses such as Germany, the UK and France, guards against insularity and the potential isolation that going it alone could bring.
The UK Government has set a target of a £1 trillion rise in exported services and goods by 2020.
Although it is looking to expand into emerging markets, such as Mexico, South Africa or Brazil, this also means consolidating trade links with partners on our own doorstep in mainland Europe.
SMEs also fear the huge upheaval that may result from fleeing the EU nest. The UK sells 60% of its exports to the EU, so leaving its biggest trading partner could be a substantial risk. Also, millions of UK workers could be made unemployed as traders move to lower-cost EU countries.
Bigger firms on staying in Europe
Virgin founder Richard Branson posted a blog earlier this spring urging political leaders not to allow Great Britain to morph into Little Britain. He claimed that an EU exit would be crushing for domestic business. Branson says that today’s global economy relies on regional trade deals, not ones by isolated countries.
JML online shopping company founder John Mills wants the UK to thrash out an improved deal with the EU to help benefit home companies more. He also wants a referendum on Europe.
KMPG professional services business reports that UK car trade leaders think they can have their cake and eat it, trading with the EU and emerging nations. They say the EU offers free movement of workers to meet engineering skills gaps and heavy investment.
What do you think? Is it in businesses’ best interests to stay part of Europe?
Posted by the Secret Businessman