Manufacturing body EEF says majority of members are pro-EU

A new poll by manufacturers' body EEF shows clear support from members for remaining in the EU.

New research, conducted by GfK on behalf of manufacturers' organisation EEF, shows that 61% of its members are in favour of the UK remaining in the EU, while 24% say that their company is undecided or won't be taking a stance. Just 5% support a ???Brexit'.

The poll shows that the pro-EU stance is fairly evenly spread across all company sizes. It also suggests that the outcome of Government negotiations is unlikely to make a great deal of difference, particularly for EEF members that are pro-EU.

The findings show that 51% of pro-EU EEF members want to remain in the EU regardless of the outcome of renegotiations, while a further 28% say their company is unlikely to change its view. Amongst the smaller ???out' camp, 54% say the outcome could turn (33%) or sway (21%) their view.

According to the survey, 70% of EEF members say that remaining in the EU is important (50%) or business critical (20%) for their company.

The findings point to members weighing up the pros and cons of EU membership and taking a pragmatic view. Just 3% claim not to see any advantages to business of being in the EU, while 9% perceive no disadvantages.

Members identify the top business advantage of EU membership as the fact that it makes it easier for UK companies to start exporting (81%). At the same time, they perceive red tape (72%) as the key disadvantage for UK business.

Other advantages identified are ease of travel between member states (77%), access to a large export market (76%), and one set of trading rules and regulations for 28 member states (73%).

Outside of red tape, the main disadvantages are the potential for slower economic growth in the EU to hold the UK back (49%) and greater potential for economic contagion or disruption across markets (44%).

Interest in exporting and the role that the EU plays in this is very high - just 10% of those surveyed do not export or are not interested in exporting to neighbouring countries in the EU.

Perhaps unsurprisingly then, 82% say it doesn't make sense for the UK to cut itself off from its major market.

At the same time, 82% agree that the UK has a key role to play in helping the EU become more efficient and work harder for its members.

Just 20% believe that UK business is held back by the EU and there is similarly little support (22%) for the idea that the UK faces a choice between exporting to the EU and exporting globally.

There is also broad recognition that trade deals today are negotiated between blocs rather than individual trading nations (59% agree/15% disagree).

The findings have been released just ahead of this year's National Manufacturing Conference in London this Wednesday, where EEF has invited both the ???in' and ???out' camps to present their cases to industry bosses.

Matthew Elliott, Chief Executive of Britain for Business (for the Vote Leave camp) and MP Damian Green of the Conservative Europe Group (for the ???remain' camp) will be going head to head on the issue.

 

EEF chief executive Terry Scuoler said: ""These findings show that the majority of our members - of all sizes - are pragmatically pro-EU.

"There are no rose-tinted spectacles here - our members are fully aware of the pros and cons of EU membership and, on balance, have decided that the UK's interests are best served by remaining.

"Our findings reinforce the fact that companies, particularly those interested in exporting, do not see the point of the UK cutting itself off from its major market.

"More importantly, they reject the idea that the UK faces a straight choice between exporting to the EU or expanding its global reach.

"They understand that a dynamic and growing economy should and could be doing both and that being part of the EU helps to underpin rather than undermine our global presence and trade ambitions."

He added: "This is not to suggest the EU is perfect - our members are fully aware and frank about the EU's shortcomings.

"But they also value its benefits and strongly believe that the right way forward is to reform and improve the EU for the benefit of all member states rather than simply walk away."

Souce: Liverpool Echo 

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