CBI Says Benefits of U.K. Membership of EU Outweigh Downsides

  • Households gain 3,000 pounds a year from being in EU: CBI
  • CBI says businesses have access to 500 million consumers

The Confederation of British Industry threw its weight behind the campaign to keep the U.K. in the European Union, warning withdrawal would pose more downsides than upsides.

“Most of our companies want the U.K. to be in a reformed EU,” John Cridland, director general of the business lobby group, which represents 190,000 companies, said in a report published on Wednesday. “For business, the benefits of full membership outweigh the disadvantages, but the EU must work better.”

Battlelines are forming even before Prime Minister David Cameron outlines terms for the U.K. remaining within the bloc or sets a date for the referendum on membership, which he’s committed to holding by the end of 2017.

The CBI, which has faced criticism from Business Secretary Sajid Javid for being too pro-EU, calculated membership benefits every household by 3,000 pounds ($4,600) a year and offers businesses access to 500 million consumers. It also consolidates regulations across the region and draws foreign investment to the U.K., the lobby said.

Among the executives cited in the report were Juergen Maier, the chief executive officer of Siemens AG’s U.K. division, and Paul Kahn, who heads the U.K. for Airbus Group SE. James Bardrick, the CEO of Citigroup Global Markets Ltd., also spoke out in favor of staying inside the EU.

At the same time, the CBI backed calls for reform by saying the EU should do more to protect countries that don’t use the euro from further integration and reduce red tape on companies.

“While there are many benefits to EU membership, we should not be blind to the downsides and recognize the EU, like any big institution, has its faults and needs to do better,” said Cridland.

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