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21 May 2015

  |  CBI Updates Team


CBI Annual Dinner: Businesses urged to turn up volume in EU debate

Chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne MP and Sir Mike Rake address the CBI’s annual dinner on its 50th anniversary

Sir Mike Rake told an audience of over 1,000 business leaders, politicians and journalists that, following the general election, business is positive about the future. He stressed that there are opportunities to reform the EU and make economic growth work for all.

Sir Mike was joined by chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne MP as keynote speaker at the 2015 CBI Annual Dinner, held at London's Grosvenor House Hotel and sponsored by IBM and Manpower Group.

Click here for all the coverage of annual dinner  

On the subject of the EU, Sir Mike highlighted that business has increasingly spoken out on this crucial issue and the time has come to turn up the volume, speaking out clearly and in a language which people can understand.   

He called on the UK to redouble efforts to build alliances to achieve change in the EU and to complete the single market, saying that the moment is ripe for reform. Sir Mike stressed that the things we are aiming for are shared by our European colleagues and the EU can be more competitive without the need for treaty change. He highlighted what he saw as encouraging signs of progress, with a growing reform consensus – from the government, business and Europe’s leaders.

Click here for more information on our work to reform the EU

Sir Mike welcomed the avoidance of a long period of uncertainty in the recent election result, but cautioned that there was much for the new administration to do, with our fiscal deficit still the highest of any major EU country. He also called for action on airport capacity, on education, to protect the UK’s financial services industry, and on low levels of workforce productivity.

Addressing the devolution debate, Sir Mike stressed that maintaining the UK’s ‘United economic Kingdom’ - our single internal market - was of utmost importance, and further devolution should be driven by economic evidence, not political expediency. He maintained that our future growth will depend on our ability to trade freely across the United Kingdom, without additional cost or complexity.

In his speech, chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne MP set out his priorities for the Budget on 8 July, pointing to tackling the deficit, rebalancing the economy and productivity as major themes. He promised to publish a “productivity plan” in the run-up to the Budget, in addition to upgrading transport links, reducing red tape and streamlining planning laws to boost Britain’s economic growth.  

Click here for the CBI’s response to the Chancellor’s speech

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