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Continental business leaders want UK in Europe even more than British counterparts

3 min read

13 April 2015

A survey carried out by The European Business Awards has showed that 86 per cent of European business leaders think the UK should stay in the EU, compared to 11 per cent who think exiting would be the best strategy.

When UK respondents were removed from the data this rose to 90 per cent, with 5 per cent of European business leaders in favour of the UK leaving.

The study, sponsored by RSM, sampled 437 European business leaders from 32 European countries, with 124 from the UK.

Those surveyed also feel that the impact the UK’s withdrawal would have on other countries would be negative. Some 84 per cent said it would badly affect the EU, while 67 per cent of the leaders from outside the UK believe that it would also impact on their own country’s economy.

While UK leaders are in agreement that stepping away from the EU would have a detrimental effect on both the UK economy and the EU itself, their responses indicate the EU would suffer the most. Some 69 per cent feel it will negatively impact on the UK economy compared to 76 per cent who believe the EU will be worse off.

Read more about Britain’s role in Europe:

Adrian Tripp, CEO of the European Business Awards, said: “For the European business community, the case for the EU is clear; the benefits outweigh the costs. From a business perspective, people see the value in the commercial opportunities; a wider perspective, stability and integration are key.”

Business leaders from the UK focused on the economic advantages brought by membership when considering reasons to stay in the EU – along with greater commercial opportunities, they mentioned a stronger trading position and access to skilled workers. European leaders outside the UK pointed to the important role of the UK in influencing the EU. The competitive advantage a united EU would have when facing China, Russia and the US was a further draw.

Those in favour of leaving the EU flagged up other points of concern – the high costs, bureaucracy and damage to the UK’s identity.

Jean Stephens, CEO of RSM, however, suggested that the repercussions of leaving would be a matter of concern for many business leaders. “The euro zone is the biggest trading partner for the UK and the potential impact of the UK exiting the EU would be significant to our clients around the world. This survey shows that business leaders feel strongly that Europe must maintain its competitive edge in the global marketplace and that the UK’s membership is key to doing so,” she added.