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Image of There are many benefits to being in the European Union

There are many benefits to being in the European Union

The European Union goes further than any other trade agreement to remove taxes – tariffs and customs duties –  and other barriers to trade between countries

This opens up a single market of over 500 million customers for UK businesses to sell their goods and services to – 8 times the number of customers in the UK alone

Even the most advanced Free Trade Agreements cannot offer businesses – in all sectors of the UK economy – the same access to customers that the single market provides across all sectors


More customers for business, more jobs back home

With more customers to sell to, business can grow – which creates more jobs and prosperity in the UK

76% of CBI members say the ‘EU single market’ has had a positive impact on their business and only 2% say it has had a negative impact (CBI/Yougov survey, 2013)

The UK exports £227 billion of goods and services to the European Union each year – equivalent to 45% of all UK exports (ONS Statistical Bulletin, Balance of Payments, 2015)

And Europe will always be a vital market for UK business – 7 of the UK’s top 10 export markets are in the European Union and it’s often the first place smaller businesses look to export to (ONS Statistical Bulletin, UK Trade, April 2015)

If we left…

We would still be able to buy and sell goods and services with the rest of the European Union, but it would not be on as good terms because tariffs and other barriers to trade would return

The exact terms would depend on the deal we negotiate with the European Union. The EU would be in the driving seat when negotiating given just 11% of their trade is with the UK, whereas we rely on the EU for 50% of our trade


The EU allows businesses to sell their good and services to 8 times the number of customers in the UK alone


Being in the European Union means companies of all shapes and sizes can export to the European Union more easily…


James Wilson, Chief Executive, Palletways

400 UK employees - UK distribution business

With the simplicity of the EU single market, we have set up hubs for our distribution business in 12 countries and continue to expand. It is more difficult to do this in non-EU countries.


Jo Dipple, Chief Executive, UK Music

111,000 UK jobs – Music industry trade body

"We export over 60% of the music made in the UK – our biggest markets are the European Union and America. Access to customers through the EU single market has undoubtedly helped the UK music industry become a world leader."


Gavin Patterson, Chief Executive Officer, BT Group

70,900 UK employees – Global telecommunications company

"BT earns around a quarter of its revenue from assisting companies and large organisations outside the UK. Membership of a reformed EU is important for us, because it opens important European markets and means we’re represented by the heft of the whole Union in world trade talks."


Andy Wood, Chief Executive, Adnams

420 employees – Medium-size brewery

"We are making British beer popular across Europe, selling easily through the EU single market to our largest export market, Scandinavia, meaning we can continue to grow our 420 strong workforce back home."


Richard Clothier, Managing Director, Wyke Farms

210 employees – Independent cheese producer

"We export 30% of our cheese from Somerset to the EU – being part of the single market with no taxes or extrarules saves a huge amount of time and money for small exporters like us."

1 set of rules not 28, cutting costs for business

It’s easier for business to trade, grow and create jobs with 1 set of rules instead of a different set for each of the 28 countries in the European Union…

Through the EU single market, businesses only have to comply with 1 set of rules to be able to sell right across the European Union

When designed well, EU rules help business to trade, grow and create jobs, by removing the costs of complying with different rules in different markets

With 1 set of rules small and medium sized businesses, without the time or capacity to comply with 28 different sets of rules, find it easier to break into markets across the European Union

And by ensuring all firms meet the same standards, UK businesses can more easily play a part in cross-border supply chains – boosting their orders and making their products more competitive

And as a full member of the European Union, the UK has a voice round the table to shape these rules so they work for British business


David Frost, Chief Executive, Scotch Whisky Association

10,900 UK jobs – Scotch whisky industry trade body

"The EU’s single market, including its regulation of food and drink, and single trade policy are central to Scotch whisky’s success, letting us trade across the EU simply and easily. British influence can help to shape these rules so we can do even more with fewer unnecessary national barriers."


David Gallimore, Chief Executive, AvF Group

56 UK jobs – Small AV equipment manufacturer

"With one set of rules across the EU we can sell to 500 million customers, without having to adapt our products. This helps maintain our place as a world leading supplier of mounts and stands for audio visual equipment."


Alok Kirloskar, Managing Director, SPP Pumps

360 UK jobs – Medium-sized pump manufacturer

"We have been supplying pumps for firefighting and critical industrial applications for a range of industries for over a century. With one set of rules in the EU single market it is easier to sell as well as source from across Europe – rather than having to adapt products to 28 different markets. Multiple rules act as barriers to trade, so as an industry we have been working to set uniform standards across the EU."


…And business thinks that the UK has significant influence in shaping the rules for the whole European Union

The UK is influential in shaping the rules for the rest of the European Union – it has the joint highest number of votes at the EU Council and the second highest number of members at the European Parliament after Germany.

Of course, we don’t always get our way in a union of 28 countries but we have helped shape the rules – from driving the creation of the single market itself to shaping technical rules, such as electrical product standards to telecoms regulations.

72% of CBI members believe that the UK currently has a significant or very significant influence on EU policies that affect their business (CBI/Yougov survey, 2013)

    If we left…

    Businesses that wanted to sell in the European Union would still have to conform to the EU’s rules, which would be expensive if they became different from rules in the UK

    We would lose our influence over what the rules would be in the other 27 countries we want to sell to – both for current goods and for the products of the future – putting UK firms at a disadvantage

    More international investment in the UK economy, creating more jobs

    Being able to easily sell to the European Union and influence the rules attracts more international investment from business - which creates jobs in the UK

    Being a member of the European Union means firms based in the UK can sell more easily to a market of 500 million people and influence the rules that affect their business

    This helps attract investment from firms, both inside and outside of the European Union, who set up operations and build factories here, creating new jobs

    This international investment also supports thousands of UK companies – and their employees – in the supply chains of big firms

    The UK’s natural competitive conditions – like our time zone and English language – together with access to the EU single market, have made us the number one place for overseas investment in Europe

    The UK is competing with countries across the world for investment from business and must maintain its attractiveness as a destination to invest

    The UK is the leading destination for investment from EU businesses and the most attractive EU country for global investment (EY Attractiveness Survey, 2015)

    International investment created 85,000 jobs in the UK last year alone (UKTI Inward Investment Report 2014 to 2015)

    72% of investors cite access to the European single market as important to the UK’s attractiveness (EY Attractiveness Survey, 2015)

    If we left...

    The UK would still have a lot going for it but we would lose a major benefit for foreign investors if access to the EU single market was restricted or if we lost influence over the rules

    Factories would not close overnight, but when the next big investment decisions were made to upgrade existing or build new factories, the UK could miss out on the jobs and growth that international companies bring


    James Bardrick, Citi Country Officer UK and Vice Chairman, Corporate & Investment Banking, Citibank

    11,000 UK jobs – Global bank

    "Jobs and the growth in Britain depend on increasing exports to Europe and the rest of the world. Leaving the European Union would make this harder, as existing trade would be at risk and the UK would lose influence over the rules. It’s not that international companies would stop investing in Britain, but their investment just won’t be at the scale we have become accustomed to."


    Paul Kahn, President of Airbus Group UK, Airbus Group

    14,000 UK jobs – Aerospace manufacturer  

    "The Airbus plant in Broughton, Wales is state-of-the-art with investment of over £2 billion in the last decade alone. It’s a key part of the Welsh economy making the wings for all Airbus commercial aircraft, as part of a much larger global operation. This high value, highly skilled work depends on Britain remaining competitive for business. Britain’s continued membership of the EU will help support investment, facilitate growth and drive productivity improvements in the UK."

    The UK car industry is a real success story of the attractiveness of the UK, as part of the EU single market, for international investment

    161,000 direct jobs
    £12.4bn added to the UK economy
    78,000 supply chain jobs
    (SMMT, Motor Industry Facts 2015)


    Ian Robertson, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Sales and Marketing BMW

    24,000 UK jobs

    "BMW Group has invested over £1.75 billion in the UK since the year 2000 and sources £1.2 billion worth of goods and services from UK suppliers annually. Together with our dealer network, we employ over 24,000 people directly and support nearly 50,000 UK jobs. We export £2.4 billion worth of cars and engines each year - around 80% of our production. From an industry perspective, it is advantageous for the UK to remain an active and influential member of the EU."


    Andy Barratt, Chairman and Managing Director, Ford of Britain

    18,000 UK jobs

    "Through the EU single market, Ford UK has formed an efficient European supply chain, supporting the manufacturing of engines in the UK to be assembled at plants in Spain, Germany and Romania."


    Dr George Gillespie, Chief Executive, HORIBA MIRA

    500 UK jobs – vehicle engineering consultancy 

    "As one of the largest export markets for cars manufactured in the UK, the EU single market is vital to thousands of businesses in the automotive industry supply chain – regardless of whether or not we export directly.  Links to the European automotive sector and a successful UK car industry means we have been able to attract global automotive organisations to locate their European R&D operations at MIRA Technology Park in the Midlands."


    Mike Matthews MBE, Managing Director & European Operations Officer, Nifco UK Limited

    540 UK jobs – Vehicle component manufacturer

    "We supply functional plastic components to car manufacturers across the country. Many of our customers continue to invest in the UK because of easy access to the EU single market meaning we can sell more and grow our business."


    Access to the skills businesses need to grow

    Being able to draw on skills from across the European Union helps UK businesses grow and increase jobs back home…
    The UK economy benefits from being able to hire talented employees from across the European Union
    Businesses can recruit from an EU-wide talent pool to plug skills shortages. This means they can keep their businesses operating competitively and continue to employ more people here in the UK
    Of course, freedom for people to move around should be a freedom to work. It is not a right to claim benefits and businesses in the UK agree that any abuse of the system needs to be tackled and recognises that increased migration can put pressure on public services

    If we left…

    Many business would not be able to access the skills they need, damaging jobs and growth in the UK. Business would find it difficult to fill the skilled jobs previously  done by migrant workers

    Hundreds of thousands of British ex-pats living and working around the EU could lose out


      Tony Shepherd, Chairman, Alderley Systems

      96 UK jobs - Small engineering and manufacturing business

      “Being able to recruit engineers with specialised skills from around the European Union at short notice, for short periods, means we are able to meet tight delivery deadlines required by international clients. Having access to this pool of skills across the European Union allows our business to continue to flourish in the UK and supports our staff back home.”


      Graham Cash, Chief Executive, BAM Construct UK

      2,600 UK jobs – Construction business

      "To deliver the infrastructure the UK needs for a strong economy, our supply chains needs workers from the European Union alongside new recruits in the UK to supplement the current skills and labour shortage."


      Professor Paddy Nixon, Vice Chancellor, Ulster University

      26,970 students – International UK university

      "The EU has played an integral role in the development of the collective UK economy, and particularly within Northern Ireland. This EU relationship is pivotal to the continued competitiveness of our universities as we rely upon access to the best, most talented academics and researchers to produce industry ready graduates and world-leading research that can deliver positive impacts to local and global economies."


      Mark Cahill, Managing Director, ManpowerGroup UK and Chair, CBI London Council

      100,000 Temp jobs weekly - Workforce solutions co.

      “Manpower advises on a range of issues from recruitment to training, so we know how important it is for our clients to be able to fill gaps in their workforce. Hiring workers from across the European Union allows UK businesses to grow and compete.”



      …And EU migration works both ways - many British people take advantage of being able to move freely and easily around the EU

      Approximately 1.8 million UK citizens live and work in other EU countries (IPPR, Global Brit report, 2010)

      Véronique Laury, Chief Executive Office, Kingfisher

      26,320 UK employees –B&Q and Screwfix retail business

      “We are a European business and, as Europe’s leading home improvement retailer, we have a pan-European senior management team which operate as one across our markets. We frequently move employees around the EU to share their skills in different parts of the business while broadening their experience. Being able to send our employees around the EU without having to comply with onerous visa and work-permits is just one benefit of the Single Market.”


        Opening up a third of the world’s market for trade

        The European Union helps open global markets to UK firms

        The EU has signed trade deals with countries around the world to remove tariffs, customs duties and other barriers to trade such as quotas, licences and regulations that are designed to keep our exports out

        This allows British business to sell more abroad - helping businesses to grow and create more jobs for people in the UK

        Overall, EU trade deals have given UK business access to markets in 50 countries from Mexico to South Korea, making it easier and cheaper for UK business to buy and sell goods around the world

        By being in the EU, UK business already has access to a third of the world’s markets by value – with more trade deals on the horizon (CBI, Our Global Future, 2013)

        If we left...

        Trade deals are not simple or easy, and must be painstakingly negotiated

        UK businesses would suffer as negotiations to replace EU trade deals would take years, without any guarantee that we would get the same quantity or quality of deals

        The UK would not jump to the front of the queue either – other countries are already busy working on deals, including with the EU. The UK would have to wait in line

        The European Union can negotiate trade deals on equal terms with other large economies



        David Cameron, Prime Minister of the UK 

        “The EU has delivered its largest free trade agreement ever [with Canada] and proved that it can be an asset for British business. The deal will inject £1.3bn to the UK economy, boost exports by almost a third and create thousands of new jobs.”



        The size of the European Union means the UK gets a better deal than it could get on its own

        Through the European Union, the UK benefits from good quality trade deals which remove more barriers than most other trade deals

        The UK could sign trade deals on its own outside the European Union, but we get a better deal with the weight of 500 million people behind us in negotiations

        On its own, the UK would not have the same weight or capacity to negotiate such high quality trade deals

        In the last 20 years, the EU has signed comprehensive trade agreements with countries such as South Africa and Vietnam whilst the World Trade Organisation has made little progress in making it easier to trade without agreements


        Case study: EU-South Korea trade deal

        The EU-South Korea trade deal, which came into force in 2011, cut taxes on 99% of goods being traded between the two and does more to reduce non-tariff barriers than deals South Korea has with other countries (European Parliament, The EU-Republic of Korea Free Trade Agreement: One Year After Its Entry Into Force, 2013)

        The deal meant South Korea accepted many EU standards

        In the year following the deal, UK exports to South Korea increased by 57% to hit their highest level ever (British Embassy Seoul, UK-Korea Trade, 2013)

        With the elimination of nearly all tariffs for the EU, businesses selling goods to South Korea are saving £1.1 billion annually (Memo: European Commission, EU-South Korea Free Trade Agreement, 2010)


        Phil Alexander, Joint Managing Director, G.F Smith

        195 UK jobs – Paper manufacturer

        “We rely on the EU single market and European Union trade deals to sell our high quality paper, both within Europe and worldwide. Our exports sales have been a real success story with sustained growth, to develop this further we need the EU to continue to push for free trade across the globe”



          Lower prices, more choice for customers 

          Making it easier to trade in the European Union can lower prices…

          Being in the EU single market means the scrapping of taxes and duties on imported goods

          Customers benefit directly without import taxes added onto prices in the shops

          Customers also get a better deal when travelling around Europe – the European Union has cut the cost of mobile phone roaming and have helped lower air fares

          European-made jeans are about £5-10 cheaper on average than equivalent jeans from the USA, due to trade taxes on American jeans


          Patrick J Doody, Sales and Marketing Director, Henderson Wholesale

          2,750 UK jobs – Grocery retailer and distribution business

          “The EU single market means we are able to offer our customers more choice and a wider range of products, at a competitive price. This is good news for our customers and good news for our business.”



          ….and increase choice for UK consumers

          Customers in the UK also have a wider choice of goods and can buy cheese from France, salami from Italy, beer from Belgium and put it in a fridge from Germany as if they were buying from the UK with no extra charges

          And it works the other way too with cars, processed foods, electrical goods and many other products from the UK being sold across Europe

          If we left…

          Tariffs would return under World Trade Organisation rules which would increase the price of imported goods and reduce choice for consumers here at home


          28% of food available on the supermarket shelf in the UK comes from the EU

          (DEFRA, Food Statistics Pocketbook, 2013)









          Read more about how the European Union can do more for business...


          Read more about how the alternatives to full EU membership have serious downsides...