Brexit Debate

Prime Minister’s EU deal welcomed by CBI

By Michael Stones contact

- Last updated on GMT

The CBI has welcomed the Prime Minister's EU deal and promised to consult its members
The CBI has welcomed the Prime Minister's EU deal and promised to consult its members

Related tags: European union, United kingdom, Eu

Business leaders’ organisation the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has welcomed Prime Minister David Cameron’s EU deal – ahead of the EU referendum on June 23 –  and pledged to canvass members’ views on the merits of membership.

CBI director-general Carolyn Fairbairn said: “UK businesses want to see changes to the EU that will put Europe on the path to a more competitive and prosperous future.

“The prime minister’s reform package looks to be a major step forward on that journey.”

Fairbairn added: “Being part of the single market guarantees businesses tariff-free access to 500M consumers in Europe and is a cornerstone of the UK’s economic success.”

The CBI boss said the EU reforms agreed over the weekend would protect the UK’s place and influence inside the European market and help to cut red tape.

‘Creating jobs and economic growth’

“A renewed focus on EU competitiveness will help British firms succeed in creating jobs and economic growth at home in the years ahead,”​ said Fairbairn.

Most, but not all, CBI members had told the organisation that being in a reformed EU would be better for jobs, growth and prosperity.

With a final deal now in place, the organisation pledged to consult members on their views.

The CBI claimed to speak on behalf of 190,000 businesses of all sizes and sectors, which together employ nearly 7M people, or about one third of the private sector-employed workforce.

The Food and Drink Federation has also promised to canvass the views of its membership on the merits of EU membership.

However, freed recently from the discipline of collective cabinet, a number of Conservative Party big guns have promised their support to the campaign for an end to the UK membership of the EU.

High profile euro-sceptics

High profile euro-sceptics included: justice secretary Michael Gove, work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith, culture secretary John Whittingdale the leader of the Commons Chris Grayling, the Northern Ireland secretary Theresa Villiers and employment minister Priti Patel.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson yesterday (February 21) announced his support for Britain’s EU exit.

Meanwhile, commenting ahead of the EU deal, the National Farmers Union (NFU) urged the prime minister to answer key questions about a potential exit.

NFU president Meurig Raymond said: “If Britain is to stay in the EU then David Cameron must be clear. How will the UK’s position within the EU’s single market be made stronger?

“Will this week’s European Council lead to a commitment to create a globally competitive market with less red tape and compliance costs and better regulation for the benefit of British agriculture?” ​See more questions below.

The NFU was working with Wageningen University to study the potential implications for British agriculture if the UK leaves the EU. 

“This study, which we will make public in the spring, will set out how of our members’ businesses could be affected,”​ said Raymond.

“We believe it will go a long way to help them reach their own decision on a Brexit.”

The NFU’s EU membership questions

If we stay:

  • What steps will be taken to make European agriculture more competitive?
  • Will there be an EU commitment to regulations that are more science-based and proportionate?
  • Will we be able to remove some of the blocks to progress – such as barriers to biotechnology?

If we go:

  • What will a British agriculture policy look like?
  • What is the future of support payments?
  • How will British farmers access the European market?
  • Will the UK be more open to imports from outside Europe?

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