News

Better regulation would help 60% of firms reshore back to Europe

3 min read

24 March 2014

There is a small, but growing, trend for firms to bring back parts of their business to Europe, but many more would consider doing it if the EU reformed to become more competitive.

A qualitative survey of more than 50 senior business leaders in the UK, Germany, France, Italy and The Netherlands – who collectively employ more than one million workers and generate nearly a trillion pounds in annual revenues – reveals that 60 per cent said that EU reform that resulted in better regulation would be the key factor leading to them reshoring parts of their business.

Firms urged political action to boost labour market flexibility and ensure the boundaries between the European Commission and national parliaments are better respected.

“This snapshot survey shows a real appetite across the Continent to reform the EU and bring more jobs back to Europe,” says Katja Hall, CBI chief policy director.

“Some companies are already making waves on this front, but it’s clear much more must be done by politicians for firms to accelerate the trend for reshoring. European businesses want a Single Market fit for the 21st century, better regulation and a Commission that respects national boundaries, to help reel in some of the jobs that have been lost overseas.”

The research, carried out by global research agency Millward Brown for the CBI, involved in-depth one-to-one interviews with CEOs, Chief Finance Officers and other senior figures from the world of business. It found that while some progress is being made to reshore jobs back to Europe, there is much more that can be done to accelerate the trend.

40 per cent of respondents are in favour of reshoring in principle, compared to only 6 per cent against. A third of firms surveyed (32 per cent) have moved some degree of activity back to their home market in the last three years.

However, while 23 per cent of firms say they will probably or definitely reshore in the next three years, 62 per cent say they currently have no plans to. It came as a CBI delegation header to Brussels to discuss the issue with the UK Prime Minister, ahead of the European Council.

“We need a Europe that is outward-looking, signing more trade deals and opening up fast-growing markets in all corners of the world,” adds Hall. “The EU must ‘Think Global First’ on regulation, to make sure it remains competitive and helps European firms, not hold them back.

“As for the UK, if we can build alliances to deliver reform in the corridors of Brussels, then we can ensure that the EU supports job creation and growth.”

Of those companies which have reshored, 73 per cent identify better quality within their home market as a critical factor. The importance of having access to the Single Market is highlighted by 54 per cent of respondents who say faster market responsiveness was behind their decision to reshore. 

Fifty-four per cent also reshored to improve their proximity to their market and half cited the resilience of supply chains in Europe.