Majority of North East businesses back the EU

February 17, 2016 @ 10:38 by Alison Cowie

The region’s business community are unlikely to be swayed by PM’s reforms, according to NECC survey

A survey by the North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC), has found that the majority of the region’s businesses wish to remain in the EU.

Of those surveyed, 63 per cent said they plan on voting to remain in the EU, a slight increase compared to NECC’s most recent survey in September last year. The percentage of those planning to vote to leave the EU is 29.3 per cent, with 7.6 per cent still to make a decision.

The Prime Minister David Cameron is currently in Brussels negotiating his EU Reform Demands; however, 53.6 per cent of respondents said their voting decision is unlikely to change regardless of potential reforms.

NECC head of policy & campaigns Jonathan Walker said: “These results show a continued desire among North East businesses to remain within the EU. While there is not a uniform business view many of our members see significant risks from a possible exit.

“Our priority this year is to further strengthen the region’s profile domestically by making North East England a recognised player on the global stage and the EU referendum throws this issue into sharper focus. We recognise the huge benefits continued membership brings to the region, but also the frustrations many businesses feel when dealing with European regulations.

“Nevertheless, as a business membership organisation we have a duty to listen to our members and make the case for both membership and reform of the EU.”

Of those surveyed 44 per cent said they were exporters to countries within the European Union.

NECC member Richard Swart, Managing Director, Berger Group (Europe) welcomed the survey results.

“It is essential for us in the North East and for the country as a whole to maintain and strengthen our links with the EU,” said Mr Swart.

“Despite claims to the contrary by EU sceptics the EU single market remains our most important market and will be for generations to come. Should we exit we have no idea the damage that could be caused across all sectors of society in the UK.

“The North East benefits greatly from EU funding and we must not jeopardise this. These results show businesses are up to the challenge of making Europe work for us. We need to remember that major trade nations, including China, the United States and India, all wish us to remain part of a trading block of the EU and have stated clearly they do not wish to renegotiate with the UK as a single country.”