There are few more contentious issues in politics currently than the UK’s membership of the European Union. With David Cameron promising a referendum in 2017, Britain’s future in the EU hangs in the balance, at least until next month’s general election. However, if a survey of European business leaders by the European Business Awards is anything to go by, there is a lot of love for the UK on the continent.
The survey found that three quarters of UK entrepreneurs wish to stay in the EU with 69% foreseeing a negative impact on the UK economy. Meanwhile, 90% of leaders outside of the UK are opposed to the UK exiting the EU, with 76% of all business leaders surveyed suggesting that the UK leaving the EU could have a negative impact on the UK economy. Whilst 84% of business leaders believed that an exit would have a detrimental impact on the EU, 67% of leaders outside of the UK feared that an exit would adversely affect their own country’s economy.
The research goes on to show that the majority of UK business leaders in favour of remaining in the EU cited the economic advantages and a strong trading position as reasons to stay. Other positive attributes of EU membership were the free market, access to skilled workers and greater commercial opportunities, according to the survey. And other European countries noted that the UK has an important role to play in influencing the EU.
On the other hand, UK business leaders who are in favour of the UK leaving the EU cited high costs, red tape and damage to the UK’s identity as suitable justifications for an exit. A lack of belief in the EU was also identified.
“These strong results show that for the European business community the case for the EU is clear; the benefits far outweigh the costs,” said Adrian Tripp, CEO of The European Business Awards. “It creates economic opportunities, breaks down barriers and builds understanding. A united European business community is integral to a safer future for all of us.”
For now, these stats offer nothing more than an interesting insight, but they could end up holding significant weight in two years’ time.