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North East businesses want renegotiated relationship with EU

North East businesses believe Britain’s relationship with the EU should be renegotiated, according to a NECC survey.

The regional study showed that there was no desire for the UK to withdraw entirely from the European Union.

The option to ‘remain in the EU but with specific powers transferred back from Brussels to Westminster’ received the highest positive impact rating of 60%.

The lowest positive impact rating of 7% was for the option to ’remain in the European Union with no change to current relationship.;

However the option of ‘full withdrawal from the European Union’ received the highest negative impact rating of 57%.

The survey also revealed the region’s business’s “top three” priorities for any re-negotiation of the balance of competences between Brussels and Westminster.

Employment law came top with 54% followed by health and safety law at 40% and regional development policies at 29%.

Other areas where significant numbers of businesses wanted to see change included justice and home affairs policies and public-sector procurement rules.

NECC Director of Policy, Ross Smith, said: “These results reflect regional business’ attitudes towards Britain’s relationship with the European Union. Our members feel passionately that re-negotiation, rather than further integration or outright withdrawal, is most likely to deliver business and economic benefit to the UK.

“For a region so successful in exports, the EU region remains crucial.

“This survey is a clear demonstration that our businesses want to remain part of the single market.

“The survey also confirms that employment and health and safety are the areas where companies would like to see legislative competence return to Westminster from Brussels.

“From a business perspective, re-negotiation of Britain’s relationship with the European Union must focus on these areas.”

The survey by the North East Chamber of Commerce forms part of a national study by the British Chambers of Commerce following David Cameron’s policy speech on Europe in January.

Nationally, the BCC surveyed 4,387 businesses during late February and March. Businesses were questions on five scenarios;

  • Full withdrawal from EU.
  • Withdrawal from EU followed by a trade agreement.
  • Remain in EU with specific powers transferred back from Brussels to Westminster.
  • Remain in EU an integrate further with EU member states.
  • Remain in EU with no change to current relationship.

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