The EU referendum: for businesses

The EU referendum: for businesses

Here are the key aspects of the EU referendum debate as they relate specifically to business people, owners and entrepreneurs, with short summaries of the main campaigns points for, and against, each.

Economics and trade

As members of the EU single market, the UK is able to freely move goods, services, capital and people – workers, in this example - with other EU countries.

The UK is part of EU-negotiated trade deals with other parts of the world, meaning it do not negotiate its own.

About half of all trade is with the EU; in April 2016, the UK exported £12bn of goods and services to EU member states.

Key leave arguments:

  • EU regulation on businesses is seen as ‘burdensome’
  • The UK’s negative trade balance –importing more than exporting – means EU members should continue trading with the UK
  • The UK is a big enough economy to negotiate our own trade deals.
  • Other member states can force through decisions against the UK’s wishes
  • Britain pays more for the Common Agricultural Policy than it gets back so leaving the EU would make more money available for UK farmers
    • Key remain arguments:

      • Proportionally, we are more dependent on exporting to the rest of the EU than those nations are importing from the UK
      • The British economy would suffer – the short term impact is likely to trigger a recession
      • The UK is likely to have to abide by EU regulations anyway, to secure access to the single market. Leaving means the UK Government can’t influence those regulations.
      • Cameron’s EU deal allows national parliaments to block legislation
      • Many British farmers would go out of business without the support of the Common Agricultural Policy
      • Immigrants, especially those from the EU, pay more in taxes than they take out
        • Jobs and working conditions

          Some workers rights are guaranteed in the UK because EU laws mandate them. Others are decided at country level already.

          The free movement of people means citizens can choose to work and live where they like within the EU.

          Key remain arguments:

          • Up to 3m jobs are directly linked to EU trade and would be at risk if the UK left the union
          • Guaranteed holiday pay, protected maternity and paternity leave and regulations on the number of hours worked are some of the protection to worker’s rights afforded from the EU
          • Investment worth £66m per day, which generates jobs, comes to the UK from EU countries.
            • Key leave arguments:

              • The UK Government could choose to keep those worker protections, like holiday pay, which suit the country
              • Less workplace regulation might create more jobs
              • High immigration has driven down wages for British workers, therefore lower migration could push wages up.