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East Midlands Chamber News

Chamber Concerned About Lack of Clarity on EU Negotiations

EU in or EU out?A majority of East Midlands firms responding to a new survey about the UK's membership of the EU have said they would vote for Britain to stay in the union if an in-out referendum were held tomorrow.

More than 200 firms from the region responded to the national survey carried out by the British Chambers of Commerce, which aimed to gauge current business sentiment about the issue, with 55.9% stating their current preference would be for the UK to remain a part of the EU. One in four would vote to leave, with the remainder undecided.

However, 53% of firms said their vote would depend upon the outcome of Prime Minister David Cameron’s renegotiation of the terms of the UK’s membership of the EU.

About 50% of East Midlands respondents said any change in the UK’s status within the EU would have a negative impact upon their business, while 17% said any change would have a positive impact.

Only 6.6% of firms said they were completely familiar with the terms of Prime Minister David Cameron’s renegotiation package, with 45% saying they were only slightly familiar with it and 24% saying they were not at all familiar with it.

Almost 60% of local firms said reducing EU business regulation and red tape would have the most beneficial impact on their business, while 43% cited the need to change the balance of power between Brussels and the EU’s member states, to enable national parliaments to block new EU legislation. Some 21% said they could benefit from more EU free trade deals with non-EU states.

Chris Hobson, Director of Policy at East Midlands Chamber*, said: “The results of this survey make it clear that businesses require more clarity on the Prime Minister’s renegotiation plans before they have their say on the UK’s future relationship with the EU.

“East Midlands firms want to see a shift in the balance of power between the UK and Brussels in any deal. Clear safeguards for the UK, and greater decision-making here at home, are their top priorities.

“With more than half of businesses likely to be influenced by the content of the Prime Minister's renegotiation package, it is important that as much information and detail as possible is presented to business and the wider electorate and the Government must up its game in terms of communicating with and listening to businesses on this vital issue.”