“UK food and drink manufacturers want to be part of a strong, outward facing, competitive EU that leads through innovation, supported by science and evidence-based policy making,” Wright told FoodManufacture.co.uk.
“The EU must break down the barriers to trade and deliver food security for its citizens, as well as shared, significant and sustainable growth.”
The FDF said it had received numerous approaches from groups coordinating pro-EU campaigns and its position on membership had not changed. “The EU has a key role to play in meeting the growing global demand for food, while adapting to the impacts of climate change and dwindling resources,” continued Wright.
‘In our national interest’
Later today (May 20), Confederation of British Industry (CBI) president Sir Mike Rake will urge bosses to highlight the benefits of EU membership as soon as possible. Addressing the CBI’s Annual Dinner, Rake will say firms “must be crystal clear that membership is in our national interest”.
Business has increasingly spoken out in favour of EU membership and should “now turn up the volume”, he will say. Business leaders should “speak out clearly and in a language which people can understand”.
Rake will tell the 1,000 dinner guests: “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 while still paying most of the costs.”
‘No credible alternative to EU’
“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 while still paying most of the costs.”
Acknowledging concern about immigration, he will say that “skilled migration” is part of the solution.
‘A real headache for business’
But the CBI boss will argue for EU reform to strip out “poorly thought-out legislation – especially on employment law – can be a real headache for business”.
The organisation claimed to represent 190,000 businesses, which employ nearly 7M people or about one third of the private sector-employed workforce.
However, not all business leaders support the UK’s continued EU membership. Chairman of construction firm JCB Lord Bamford said earlier this week he favoured quitting the union. “We are the fifth or sixth largest economy in the world,” Bamford told BBC News. “We could exist on our own – peacefully and sensibly.”
Exiting the EU would allow the UK to “negotiate as our country rather than being one of 28 nations”.
But the boss of manufacturers’ organisation EEF Terry Scuoler warned earlier this month the prospect of leaving the EU was “the biggest threat” to the nation's long-term economic well being.
He urged Prime Minister David Cameron to call a referendum as soon as possible. “Any drift or dithering on this issue will mean uncertainty for British businesses, which would be very unhelpful for the long-term prospects of the economy,” said Scuoler.
Cameron has promised an in-out referendum on the nation’s EU membership by the end of 2017.
Meanwhile, should the UK retain its EU membership? Would food and drink manufacturers do better in the union or benefit from quitting it? Share your views in our survey below.
Would food and drink manufacturers be better off inside or outside a reformed EU?
Inside: Businesses can stay close to their customers and help influence EU rules.75%
Outside: Why shackle ourselves to membership dues and all those pointless rules?0%
Depends on the nature of EU reform.17%