Saturday 20 January 2018

Business lobby groups back Cameron's reform proposals

A Union flag is raised ahead of the visit by Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron to the European Commission in Brussels. Photo: Reuters
A Union flag is raised ahead of the visit by Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron to the European Commission in Brussels. Photo: Reuters
Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

European business organisations - including IBEC - are backing the UK Prime Minister's drive to make the EU more competitive.

The Confederation of British Industry and its counterparts in Ireland, Germany, France, Italy and 15 other European countries have published a joint open letter backing the reform package that David Cameron wants to put to the British people.

The prime minister must hammer out differences with fellow EU leaders at a summit tomorrow over a plan to reform Britain's relationship with the European Union.

The letter from the business groups recognises that not all member states wish to be part of a drive for further integration, and that non-Eurozone states should have their position safeguarded.

IBEC chief Danny McCoy said the EU needs to take steps to better compete with the rest of the world on jobs and growth.

"The UK and Irish economies have incredibly strong bonds, but for firms to make the most of this it's vital that the UK stays in a reformed EU," Mr McCoy said. "It would be a major blow if the UK turned its back on the EU at a time when Europe needs to stand together to address very difficult, shared challenges."

Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of the CBI, said the EU market 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," Ms Fairnbairn said.

Meanwhile, a report published by Brussels-based CEEMET, an umbrella group which represents 200,000 manufacturers across Europe, said reduced trade and weaker industrial productivity could slow Britain's economic growth by 0.5pc a year for the next 15 years if it leaves the EU.

A Brexit could reduce British economic output by more than 7pc over the next 15 years, Frederic Gonand, a professor at the University of Paris-Dauphine, said. On Monday Ms Fairairn said most of the firms she had spoken to recently had started to make contingency plans for a 'Brexit'.

Irish Independent

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