The majority of respondents feel EU membership has a positive effect on their business.
The vast majority of companies think the UK should stay in the EU, research finds.
Some 77 per cent of UK small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) report that they want to stay, with just 10 per cent thinking it is in their interests for the UK to leave the EU, according to a study by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and YouGov.
Despite frustrations over the current relationship, and the burden of some regulations, particularly employment law, the survey of more than 400 businesses shows most feel the positives more than outweigh the negatives.
However, firms do want to see the relationship reformed. Businesses are calling for a reduction in unnecessary regulations, rules to be implemented evenly across all member states and an end to the ‘gold-plating’ of EU legislation.
CBI director-general John Cridland says that firms want what is best for jobs and growth, and there is genuine concern that an exit would hit business investment and access to the world’s largest trading bloc.
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‘The UK should take the lead on the push for reform and make sure rules are evenly applied across the EU. Businesses are also concerned about the UK gold-plating legislation from Brussels,’ he adds.
‘Businesses do have some serious concerns about the EU, but ultimately they want the UK inside the tent winning the argument for reform.’
Some 71 per cent of respondents say the UK’s membership has had a positive or very positive impact on their businesses, with 16 per cent stating it has no impact and 13 per cent that the impact is negative.
When asked to rank their priorities for reform, 46 per cent want an end to ‘gold-plating’ of EU legislation and 39 per cent want to see EU rules applied evenly across all member states.
Other priorities for reform include reducing regulation (39 per cent) and making structural reforms for a more competitive EU (36 per cent).