20th May 2015
The CBI is calling on businesses to “turn up the volume” on the importance of staying in the European Union.
Speaking at a the organisation’s annual dinner this evening, Sir Mike Rake, CBI president, will make the case for Britain remaining at the heart of a reformed EU and the importance of maintaining the integrity of the UK’s single internal market.
Sir Mike will say: “Business has increasingly spoken out on this crucial issue and the time has come to turn up the volume. Speaking out clearly and in a language which people can understand.
“In the months to come, our country will have to make its own choice. A choice between openness and isolation. Between shaping the future or retreating into the past.
“The question is not whether the UK would survive outside the EU, but whether it would thrive. No-one has yet set out a credible alternative future to EU membership. The current alternatives are not realistic options – little or no influence and the obligation to comply with EU principles whilst still paying most of the costs.”
He will warn: “Norway is the 10th highest contributor to the EU budget – despite not being a member – and it took Switzerland nine years to negotiate and implement partial access to the Single Market.
“Business must be crystal clear that membership is in our national interest. The EU is key to our national prosperity. Letting us set the trade agenda, be part of the biggest free trade deal ever negotiated – TTIP – and be able to properly compete with global giants like China and India.”
But Sir Mike will call for the UK to redouble efforts to build alliances to achieve EU reform and to complete the single market, saying: “Today the moment is ripe for reform. The things we want are shared by our European colleagues and the EU can be more competitive without the need for treaty change.
“Reform will not happen overnight. But by working with our allies on an ambitious – yet achievable – agenda, we can make it a reality. So we support the Prime Minister’s drive for a more competitive EU. And the new Government can count on business’s support to make this happen.
Sir Mike will warn that the UK regulatory environment is going above and beyond others risking the City of London’s position as Europe’s financial centre.
He will say: “Of course – the City is ‘Europe’s financial capital’.
“Europe and the City need each other.
“Europe needs the City to produce growth and fund EU competitiveness.
“And the City needs Europe as a gateway to clients, business and investment. EU reform is a chance for both to benefit.
“Right here in the UK, the financial services sector supports growing firms, invests in infrastructure and contributes significant tax revenues…in the last Parliament, we recognise that the Chancellor took action to protect the City’s interests on many occasions.
“But today, with the UK regulatory environment going above and beyond others, there are unmistakeable signs that activity is being diverted elsewhere.
“We need to retain major global institutions based in London – key to our reputation as a global hub and to our world-beating legal, accounting and other professional services.”