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Businesses Call for EU Change, Says NECC


North East businesses would like to see the re-negotiation of Britain's relationship with the European Union, according to a North East Chamber of Commerce survey.

Ross Smith, NECC Director of Policy North East businesses would like to see the re-negotiation of Britain's relationship with the European Union, according to a North East Chamber of Commerce survey.

The regional study also demonstrated that there was no appetite for a full withdrawal from the EU.

The survey forms part of a national study by the British Chambers of Commerce following the Prime Minister's January policy speech on Europe. It revealed broad support for the re-negotiation of Britain's future relationship with the EU.

The North East results showed:

• 'Remain in the European Union, but with specific powers transferred back from Brussels to Westminster' received the highest positive impact rating, with 60%. This scenario also received the lowest negative impact rating, with 7%.
• 'Full withdrawal from the European Union' received the highest negative impact rating, with 57%.
• 'Remain in the European Union with no change to current relationship' received the lowest positive impact rating, with 7%.

The survey also reveals that the region's business's "top three" priorities for any re-negotiation of the balance of competences between Brussels and Westminster are 1) employment law (54%), 2) health and safety law (40%), and 3) regional development policies (29%).

Other areas where significant numbers of businesses wanted to see change included justice and home affairs policies and public-sector procurement rules.

NECC Director of Policy, Ross Smith, said:

"These results reflect regional business' attitudes towards Britain's relationship with the European Union. Our members feel passionately that re-negotiation, rather than further integration or outright withdrawal, is most likely to deliver business and economic benefit to the UK.

"For a region so successful in exports, the EU region remains crucial. This survey is a clear demonstration that our businesses want to remain part of the single market.

"The survey also confirms that employment and health and safety are the areas where companies would like to see legislative competence return to Westminster from Brussels. From a business perspective, re-negotiation of Britain's relationship with the European Union must focus on these areas."

Nationally, the BCC surveyed 4,387 businesses during late February and March. The results of the five scenarios tested are below.

FULL WITHDRAWAL FROM EU: 60% of companies feel that withdrawal fully from the European Union would impact negatively. However, 18% believe full withdrawal be positive. 10% believe this would have no impact.

WITHDRAWAL FROM EU FOLLOWED BY A TRADE AGREEMENT: 33% of companies believe this scenario could have a positive impact, while 42% view it negatively, 9% say no impact, and 16% are unsure.

REMAIN IN EU WITH SPECIFIC POWERS TRANSFERRED BACK FROM BRUSSELS TO WESTMINSTER: 64% of companies believe this would be positive for business and economic prospects. 11% felt this could be negative.

REMAIN IN EU AND INTEGRATE FURTHER WITH EU MEMBER-STATES: 23% of firms state that this scenario would bring business and economic benefits. 48% view it negatively, and 13% think it would have no impact.

REMAIN IN EU WITH NO CHANGE TO CURRENT RELATIONSHIP: maintenance of the status quo appears to have declining appeal for British business, with 42% viewing this scenario as having a negative impact, compared to 32% who believe it would have no impact.