UK ‘crucial’ to a successful Europe: business leaders

By Nicholas Robinson

- Last updated on GMT

Europe needs the UK to stay in the EU – business leaders claim
Europe needs the UK to stay in the EU – business leaders claim

Related tags Business leaders United kingdom Eu

UK businesses play a crucial role in Europe’s economy and any decision to leave the union would be grave for EU economies as well as the UK’s.

That’s according to more than 400 business leaders from various sectors across Europe, at the European Business Awards (EBA) last night (May 26).

Three UK food and drink firms were shortlisted for two of the 11 awards at the ceremony in London. They included: UCC Coffee, Dawn Meats and Marks & Spencer.

UK food and drink recognised at the EBAs

  • UCC Coffee – shortlisted for Employer of the Year
  • Dawn Meats – shortlisted for Environmental and Corporate Sustainability
  • Marks & Spencer – shortlisted for Environmental and Corporate Sustainability

According to a poll of business leaders, carried out by the EBA, 86% of European bosses believed the UK should vote to stay in the EU when a referendum is held.

More than two thirds (67%) of non-UK respondents said Europe’s economy would be damaged if the UK left the EU, while more than half (52%) claimed their businesses would be damaged.

Wanted to stay together

Business leaders from across the EU and the UK had made it clear they wanted to stay together, Philip Forrest, chairman of the judges and president of the International Customer Service Institute, said.

“Business funds the fabric of our societies,” ​Forrest said. “The outcome of this referendum has a big impact on the countries of the EU.”

Thousands of jobs relied on the union and so did the generation of hundreds of millions of pounds in trade, he added.

Real manufacturing competitiveness had started to return to Europe and it was important it was maintained, Forrest claimed. “We will make sure the views of businesses are heard,” ​he said.

Sir John Madejski, an English businessman whose commercial interests span restaurants, hotels, football and publishing, echoed Forrest. He said: “I’m a businessman and have always been a businessman.

‘You make the economy go round’

“I believe in the EU. Forget about the politicians, you people are where it’s at. You make the economy go round, the whole world and the EU. It would be foolish to leave the EU.”

Madejski was also the recipient of the EBA’s Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognised his contribution to and achievements in business.

sir john
Sir John Madejski receives his award

The EU referendum will be mentioned by the Queen in her speech at the state opening of Parliament today.

Prime Minister David Cameron promised to hold a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU before the end of 2017. This was a pledge he made in the general election to appease the right wing within his own party and those thinking of voting for UKIP.

However, Terry Scuoler, chairman of the manufacturers’ organisation EEF, called on Cameron to hold the referendum as soon as possible​ to ensure the UK’s economy continued to grow.

Meanwhile, the Food Manufacture Oscars, now in their 14th​ year, are open for entries.

Help your food and drink manufacturing business win the recognition it deserves​ by entering the 2015 awards.

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