Treaty change is not necessary to secure EU reform

The Prime Minister is right to accept that he does not need to change the EU treaties to get what he wants in Europe, say business leaders. Business for New Europe, the pro-European business group, was responding to reports that David Cameron has dropped his previous demand for "proper, full-on treaty change".
Lucy Thomas, Campaign Director of Business for New Europe, said:
“David Cameron is right, he doesn’t need to change the treaties to get what he wants. There is no doubt that Europe needs to change, but substance is more important than what piece of paper it’s written on.
“Whether it is on competitiveness, migrant benefits, or protecting countries that do not use the euro, these can all be achieved without a time-consuming changes to the treaties.”
(Read more)

Eurosceptics are wrong; EU membership keeps Britain strong, safe and secure

Being a member of the European Union helps keep Britain strong, safe and secure, says Business for New Europe. The pro-European campaign group was responding to the latest part of a report by Business for Britain, which claims that Britain would have more influence on the world stage outside the EU.

Lucy Thomas, Campaign Director of Business for New Europe, said:

"Four days into the serialisation of their Change or Go report, we get to Business for Britain's view of our place in the world. It is hard to see how Britain would actually enjoy greater influence with just 65 million people, compared to the world's largest market with half a billion. Not only in trade terms but by standing up to common threats.
"As 27 business leaders from Virgin's Richard Branson to BT's Mike Rake make clear today in The Times, Britain is strongest with 27 other countries against common problems.
"There is near-unanimity amongst those at the sharp end of British foreign policy that the EU advances Britain’s interests – and the same is true of close allies like the United States.
"Take General Sir Peter Wall, until recently the head of the British Army. He said recently: “Common threats need common solutions, so we are better protected inside the EU. Agreeing sanctions against Russia would have been far harder if we were outside.” From the Russia crisis to climate change, and from piracy to cross-border crime, being in the EU magnifies our ability to deal with problems that affect all European countries.
"Business for Britain say that European External Action Service diplomats “support EU policies rather than specific UK interests.” This totally ignores the fact that, in the vast majority of cases, British foreign policy and EU foreign policy are aligned. The recent ECFR scorecard found Britain exerted more power in European foreign policy than any other country bar Germany. The report concluded: “The UK has far more clout as part of the EU collective than it does alone.”
"The report alleges that EU foreign policy integration represents a “long-term threat” to Britain’s control of its foreign policy. This is totally over-blown. For a start, the EU is a foreign policy minnow. As the report helpfully points out, the External Action Service has 140 delegations, around 7,000 staff and an annual budget of £362m. By contrast, the UK Foreign Office has 270 offices, 14,000 staff and a budget of £1.6bn. The EU completely lacks the budget to rival its larger member states – and EU finances, of course, are controlled by member states.
"The EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy is run purely on the basis of unanimity. Each member state, including Britain, has a veto. Changing this state of affairs would require alterations to the treaties, a process over which each member state also has a veto. The EU cannot harmonise foreign policy without the explicit consent of every single country in the European Union. That is to say, the British government and the British parliament would have to assent to it. There exist true democratic safeguards protecting British foreign policy from undue EU expansion.
"The report concludes by saying that Britain would enjoy closer ties with “Anglo-Saxon states”, which “remain closer to each other than to many EU states.” The problem is that these same Anglo-Saxon countries are very clear that Britain needs to stay in. In 2013, Barack Obama said: “we want to see a strong British voice in that European Union. That is in the American interest.” Every US President since Kennedy has had this same position. In the same year, the Australian Foreign Minister said: “I encourage the UK to maintain its influence by remaining an engaged participant in all aspects of the EU internal market.” Our traditional friends in the Anglosphere and the Commonwealth want us to stay in so as to preserve our position on the world stage.
"Business for Britain’s public position has always been that they would recommend staying in the EU, though only if David Cameron achieved some impossible changes, such as effectively abolishing the free movement of people. So it is fascinating that today’s section of the report is titled “The EU is stealing Britain's diplomatic influence - and so we must leave”, and the body of the text does not include the words “reform” or “renegotiation” once. We are pleased that BfB are finally being honest that their intention is to pull Britain out of the EU at any cost, not just change the basis of our membership."
(Read more)

Major UK business leaders say ‘it is overwhelmingly in Britain’s interests to remain in the EU’

A group of high profile business leaders including Virgin Group’s founder, Sir Richard Branson, have warned that Britain must be “in the room fighting for reform, not knocking on the door from outside.”
The leaders of major businesses including BT, easyJet and Eurostar say that as well as the “overwhelming” benefits to Britain’s businesses and the economy, Britain as a whole is stronger, with 27 other countries being able to face common global problems.

The group backed the Prime Minister’s call for EU reform, arguing that Europe needs to be “more efficient, streamlined and competitive.  With reform on the agenda for the EU meeting in Brussels, the group said: “Of course, the EU is far from perfect and that is why the Prime Minister is right to call for change.”

The letter is back by UK businesses large and small, including the founder of Hogan’s Cider, Allen Hogan and the co-founder of Innocent Drinks, Richard Reed.

Between them, the companies employ at least 133,000 in the UK, and have a combined estimated annual turnover of £25bn.
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BNE in the Times: 'Stay and negotiate within EU, business leaders urge Cameron'


Leading UK business figures from blue chip companies to small start-ups today call on the government to keep Britain in Europe in a letter to The Times.

Read here: 'Stay and negotiate within EU, business leaders urge Cameron'

Read the letter here: 'British business votes to remain in the EU'


BNE in City AM: 'As Cameron heads to Brussels, will he achieve sufficient reform to Britain’s EU relationship?'


Lucy Thomas, Campaign Director of Business for New Europe, debates with Brian Monteith of Global Britain on whether David Cameron can achieve real reforms of the EU.

Read here: 'As Cameron heads to Brussels, will he achieve sufficient reform to Britain's EU relationship?'


Anti-Europeans are wrong; Brexit would damage the City of London

Eurosceptic claims that the City of London would be unaffected by exit from the EU are misleading and inaccurate. Business for New Europe, the pro-European business campaign, was responding to the publication of the latest instalment of Change or Go, the report by Business for Britain that is being serialised in the Telegraph.
Lucy Thomas, Campaign Director of Business for Britain, said:
“As banks and financial services companies themselves make clear, outside the EU there is no guarantee that they could continue to trade as freely as they do now.  While 84% of directors and partners of City firms want to remain in the EU, just 5% want to leave. Several have said that they would have to reconsider their presence in the UK were we to leave the EU and a number of banks have already been looking at property abroad in order to be prepared to do so if necessary.
“London is the world’s financial centre in Europe and accounts for 85% of Europe’s hedge fund assets, 42% of its private equity funds and 50% of its investment bank activity. More than two million people are employed in financial services across the UK. Brexit would undoubtedly upset the prosperous situation that the sector has enjoyed within the European Union. 
“The simple fact is that, in order to access the European financial passport, Britain would have to be in the Single Market. That would leave us subject to 75% of EU regulation, over which we would have no power, while we would still need to pay billions into the EU budget every year. Switzerland does not have access to the single market in finance, which is why so many Swiss banks have operations in London.
“Business for Britain claim that ‘it is very unlikely that the EU would try to deny the City access to European capital markets.’ They have clearly not read the reports in the Irish press today that the Republic could be in a position to attract 15% of Britain’s FDI flows, worth €15bn. London is a centre for non-European banks which want access to the Single Market, and the rest of Europe would do everything it could to tempt them away if we left. That is what happens when you turn friends into competitors – they try to eat your lunch.
“Even Business for Britain themselves admit that the UK would need to ‘replicate EU financial laws as they are produced’ if we left. We would find ourselves, like Norway and Switzerland, governed by rules that our government and our representatives would have no say in making. Regulation without representation is not an acceptable position for a great country like Britain.
“The claim that Britain has little influence over EU financial regulation is clearly nonsense. Recent British efforts to advance the interests of the City have been successful, whether it be the European Court judgment protecting euro-denominated trading in London, the British exemption from EU plans separating retail and investment banking, or the refusal to allow the EU as a whole to move on the financial transactions tax. The creation of the “double-majority” lock in the European Banking Authority showed that Eurozone countries are sensitive to the needs of the “euro-outs”. Moreover, Britain’s European Commissioner, Jonathan Hill, holds the finance portfolio. Not only will he advance the exciting Capital Markets Union agenda, but he is in a perfect position to smother initiatives that might be harmful to the City.
“It is indeed ironic that this speculative piece of work has appeared on the same day that Standard and Poor’s, one of the world’s largest credit ratings agencies, has said that Brexit would ‘pose substantial risks to the balance of payments, the currency and the economy’. The vast majority of respected analysts, and workers in the City themselves, are clear that EU membership benefits our financial services sector.”
(Read more)

Britain should and must stay in the EU: Richard Reed on Bloomberg TV


BNE in City AM: 'Eurosceptic report draws sharp criticism'


A new report from Eurosceptic business leaders has elicited strong criticism from opposing campaigners.

Read here: 'Eurosceptic report draws sharp criticism'


Eurosceptics fail to convince that Britain would be better off outside the EU

Claims that Britain would be better off outside the EU are spurious, misleading and built on sand, say business leaders. Business for New Europe, the pro-European business campaign, was commenting on the Business for Britain report Change or Go, which has been serialised in the Telegraph

Lucy Thomas, Campaign Director of Business for New Europe, said: “Business for Britain’s sums have now gone from bad to worse. The more we see of their calculations about the benefits of our EU membership the clearer it is that they simply have no idea what life after exit would really look like for the UK.

“They have now let the cat out of the bag by admitting that every penny of the structural funding that we received from the EU would disappear overnight if we left Europe. That could run into billions of pounds and their assumption that the UK government would simply pick up the tab is neither credible nor likely. 

“While they claim that UK businesses would still be free to trade with Europe, they’ve chosen to ignore the reality that without access to the Single Market UK firms would face new tariffs and restrictions when selling their goods and services to our neighbours in Europe.

“Their analysis fails to consider the foreign investors who would move their operations to Europe to stay in the Single Market; the vast amount of red tape British exporters would have to abide by; and the loss of power over EU regulations with which we would have to abide anyway.

“Business for Britain also assume that Britain would immediately scrap all regulations. Certain regulations, such as the REACH directive on chemicals, add slightly to the cost of a product in order to protect consumers and the environment. This report assumes that Britain outside the EU would simply scrap such common-sense protections. 

 “The truth is that overall we pay less into the EU than Germany, and the economic benefits of our membership are estimated at between £62-78bn a year which is £3,000 for every household in the UK. 

“Under any of the scenarios proposed by those arguing for a British exit from Europe it is simply impossible for them to answer just how many jobs would be lost here. Exit is not a risk worth taking, because at a time when we still face a challenging economic climate, it makes no sense to put jobs and investment in jeopardy.”
(Read more)

BNE in the Times: 'Britain "has nothing to fear" from EU exit, says business group'


Britain would prosper and gain influence outside an unreformed European Union if the government cannot secure change, a leading pressure group has claimed.

Read here: 'Britain "has nothing to fear" from EU exit, says business group'


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