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But, the European Union should work better for business by...

The EU isn’t perfect and can work better for business by doing less of what it does badly and doing more of what it does well

The majority of businesses think that the UK is better off in the European Union but it can do more to help them grow and create jobs.

The UK is not alone in wanting reform and by working with our European partners, we can create a Europe which works better for everyone.

We have the opportunity, right now, to achieve reform for a more outward looking, open and competitive European Union.


Reducing and simplifying the rules so business can grow

The European Union should focus on better regulation to minimise the burden on business and ensure the rules help business to grow

When designed well, 1 set of EU rules can be a powerful way to support businesses to grow - simplifying the rules across 28 countries and levelling the playing field

But, some businesses feel that a constant flow of poorly designed EU rules are bad for businesses, who end up spending lots of time and money trying to comply with a complicated rulebook

Too many rules put UK and European businesses at a disadvantage against global competitors who can operate more freely and work to lower standards

And there are some areas – like lifestyle issues or certain aspects of employment law – that are better dealt with by national governments rather than at EU level

But, there are encouraging signs that the EU Commission recognises this and is working to reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens


Mike Kapur, Small business owner, Signum Corporate Communications and Chair, CBI Small Business Forum

"The European Union must only implement rules that create opportunities for smaller businesses and are not unnecessary burdens."



Estelle Brachlianoff Senior Executive Vice-President UK & Ireland, Veolia

14,000 UK employees - Environmental services business

"The European Union must ensure all regulation has a clear goal, is well-designed and enables businesses to grow and create jobs. For example, regulation around common environmental standards has helped to encourage investment in new infrastructure across the EU & UK."


Paul Broadhurst, Chief Executive Officer, Technetix

65 UK jobs - Broadband technology developer

"The rules of the EU single market help us to grow by making it easier to break into new markets. But the EU must keep working to ensure these rules create opportunities and do not hold back British businesses who look to be competitive globally."


And the EU is making progress on better and less regulation, cutting the number of new initiatives every year for the past 5 years










Breaking down barriers to EU trade in services

The European Union needs to break down barriers to trade in services to help UK firms expand
Many barriers to selling goods across the European Union have been removed but some UK companies still face difficulties in selling their goods and especially their services in other
countries in the Union

The EU single market in services aims to remove national non-tariff barriers. But the market is not complete and progress has been disappointingly slow. Many of these barriers remain such as failure to recognise qualifications gained in other EU countries

Removing these barriers would enable our services firms, from architecture to accountancy, to grow as the UK has a competitive advantage in many service industries

It is estimated that removing the remaining barriers to a true single market in services and digital would add 7% to the UK economy and create thousands of jobs. (BIS, ‘The economic consequences for the UK and the EU of completing the Single Market’, 2011)


With services accounting for 77% of the economy, the UK has everything to gain from completing the EU market in services and influencing its rules


David Rhodes, Senior Partner and Managing Director, Boston Consulting Group

26 EU offices - Global Management Consultancy

"Completing the EU single market in services should be good for UK businesses. Practically, this requires the EU to enforce the current rules allowing services to be provided across Europe. Today, these rules are still not properly implemented in many countries."


Paul Smith, Chairman, Eversheds LLP

2,430 UK employees – International law firm

"The EU single market has made it easier for UK companies to operate in highly regulated services sectors around Europe. As a Law firm with a strong international and European practice, we would like to see more progress on the EU services market."



The European Union is starting to listen to what businesses need, but we need to inject more momentum for reform…

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker  

"Improving the single market in services is a top priority…"



Supporting online businesses to grow

The European Union should break down barriers to selling online and help cutting-edge businesses grow

  • From online banking to how we plan and book holidays, digital technology has revolutionised the way we live our lives and is changing how business is done – especially across borders
  • And because digital life knows no borders, cooperation between countries at European level is essential
  • There is an opportunity to do even more but, at the moment, there are too many restrictions on businesses selling their goods and services online across different European countries
  • The Commission must work to shift the sometimes negative perception of EU digital policy, and ensure that its strategy will promote growth and innovation
  • UK companies are missing out on potential customers in Europe, and UK consumers are missing out on a wider choice of products
  • The EU single market needs to be updated for the ever-evolving digital age so that it works better for consumers and businesses as they do more and more online

As the most advanced digital market in the European Union, the UK has a lot to gain from updating the single market for the digital age


90% of UK households are connected to the internet

74% of UK residents bought items online in 2014

20% of UK businesses are currently selling online

(ONS, Internet Access – Households and Individuals, 2014; E-commerce and Internet Use, 2014)


The European Union’s strategy published in May 2015 is starting to make progress on creating a more digital Europe – but we need to make it a reality


Dr Angela Merkel, Federal Chancellor of Germany

"We need the right framework for improving the investment conditions throughout Europe for digital services."




Making sure the European Union works for all countries 

The European Union needs to ensure it works for countries that don’t use the Euro, as well as those that do

The UK isn’t going to join the Euro and can’t be forced to – it has a permanent opt-out from it

But it is in the UK’s interest for the Euro to be successful given we do so much trade with the countries that use it. When countries that use the Euro are doing well, UK business can sell more to them

Business recognises that countries using the Euro will need to co-operate even more closely to make the currency work. But that integration shouldn’t be required of countries that don’t use the Euro

And integration could leave countries like the UK – which don’t use the Euro but want the single market – left out of key decisions

So there need to be safeguards to make sure countries like the UK continue to benefit from European Union membership outside of the Euro

There is already a precedent for safeguarding countries not in the Euro and this must be extended

When the European Union created a new Banking Union for the countries using the Euro, it made sure it protected the single market by requiring a majority of countries that don’t use the Euro to agree to any new rules

Leaders in Euro countries are starting to accept this view, but we need more guarantees


Wolfgang Schauble, German Finance Minister

"Future EU reform and treaty change must…guarantee fairness for those EU countries inside the single market but outside the single currency." (Financial Times, 2014)


Keep spending under control and focus it on jobs and growth

The European Union must focus spending in areas which create jobs and growth

Although there is a fee for membership of the European Union, it’s not as much as is sometimes thought: membership costs less than the cost of one TV license for each UK citizen every year

Given that membership is worth around £1,225 every year to the average UK citizen, business thinks that’s a good return on investment

But the EU must still do more to spend the money it receives wisely. It doesn’t have a bottomless pit of money and, in tough economic times, it should spend money where jobs and growth can be created, such as on innovation and infrastructure

The EU must get the most ‘bang for its buck’, spending more money on schemes like the 7th Framework programme for Research and Technological Innovation which is creating an estimated 900,000 additional jobs across the EU, many in the UK (EU Commission, Added value of Research, Innovation and Science portfolio, 2011 )

And change is beginning to happen...

Last year 45% of the EU budget was spent on 'growth and employment' - ​research and innovation, education and economic policies

(EU annual budget, 2014)


And through working with allies, the UK has had success in cutting the EU budget in 2013


David Cameron, UK Prime Minister

"People say you’ll never be able to cut the EU budget. I’ve cut the EU Budget…"





Professor Dame Julia King, Vice-Chancellor, Aston University

13,000 students – Research led University 

"EU funding programmes are vital for Aston University. Through the Horizon 2020 programme we have undertaken world leading research supporting jobs and growth in the UK and through European Regional Development funding we have helped many businesses apply our technical knowledge to innovate and to improve their operations."


Doing more to open up global markets

The European Union should focus on signing more global trade deals which could double global markets for UK business

The UK gets better quality trade deals going through the EU with the weight of a 500 million person market behind us when negotiating. But the EU can sometimes take a long time to sign on the dotted line as all 28 countries need to agree

The EU must put more resources behind signing trade agreements to help UK firms access overseas markets, creating jobs back home

Business wants to see more progress on trade agreements with big global powerhouses, like America and Japan, and fast growing countries in South-East Asia and Latin America

The European Union is making progress on new trade deals



The European Union is currently negotiating deals with 87 countries in total (European Commission, EU Trade relations world wide, 2015)

Deals with the United States and Japan would mean UK firms had access to nearly two thirds of global markets

Existing EU trade deals open up one third of the world’s markets by value


Juergen Maier, Chief Executive, Siemens UK​

14,000 UK employees – German engineering firm

"EU trade agreements like the one with the US reduce trade barriers and create significant opportunities for us in the UK with more exports and job creation."



But it must prioritise a successful conclusion to the EU-US trade deal negotiations, boosting the economy and creating jobs



Brigid Simmonds OBE, Chief Executive, British Beer & Pub Association

870,000 jobs – Brewers and pubs trade body

"A deal with the United States provides a once in a generation opportunity to level the playing field for small British brewers who have to pay 157% more tax than small US brewers.  Tackling this inequality could be worth millions to the British beer industry and economy – creating jobs here at home."


Read more about the benefits of being in the European Union for business...


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