UK business leaders gave a qualified welcome to the draft agreement published today by Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, which includes measures to increase economic competitiveness, and protections for Britain from further political integration.
Simon Walker, Director General of the Institute of Directors, said:
“The deal on the table is better than we expected. The top reform priorities for IoD members are to stop the flow of unnecessary red tape from Brussels, make clear the UK is not on a path to more political integration, and make the more EU competitive. There are proposals on these areas in Tusk’s draft which hold promise, although no one should get carried away just yet.
“Cutting back on pointless bureaucracy which stifles companies must be one of the top aims of these negotiations, so we welcome the commitment to scale back EU interventions in areas which should be left up to individual countries (or in EU jargon, break the principle of subsidiarity). We were also pleased to see that the draft says the EU will put in place burden reduction targets for regulation where feasible. Politicians, wherever they are from, love making new regulations, so we need targets to counter-act this impulse. The targets must not be just where feasible, but wherever possible.
“IoD members are interested in how the negotiations practically reduce the barriers in the way of growing their business, taking on new staff, becoming more internationally competitive. Much of the focus will be on the headline announcement of a ‘red card’ to block proposals from the EU Commission, but frankly this is not likely to be used often, as it needs too many member states to agree.”
The majority of IoD members are waiting to see the final outcome of the renegotiations before deciding how to vote in the referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union. The measures which IoD ranked as their most important priorities are to:
- Reduce the volume of unnecessary EU red tape (60% said this was one of their top 3 concerns)
- End or amend the EU’s goal of “ever closer union” (38%)
- Make the Eurozone economies more competitive (32%)
The full results of a survey of IoD members on their opinions towards Europe and priorities for reform are published in the IoD’s report, The UK’s relationship with the European Union.