-  Tuesday 29 September 2020

New lobby group's poll finds business pro-EU

March 27 2006
A pro-Europe business lobby group launches itself today by publishing a poll that suggests a clear majority of British corporate leaders believe it in their businesses' interests for the UK to stay in the European Union.
The lobby group, Business for New Europe, was formed after the demise of the old pro-Europe lobby, Britain in Europe, which folded in turn after the government repeatedly ruled out early membership of the euro and scrapped plans for a referendum upon the proposed European constitution.

The new organisation includes well-known pro-Europe figures, including Niall FitzGerald, chairman of Reuters, and Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of WPP, the advertising company.

But it also includes business leaders who have not been high-profile supporters of the euro or the constitution, such as Roger Carr, chairman of Centrica, Sir Nigel Rudd, chairman of Boots, Charles Dunstone, chief executive of Carphone Warehouse, and David Levin, chief executive of United Business Media.

Roland Rudd, chairman of BNE, said the new group was a "much broader church" than Britain in Europe had been, and included business people opposed to the euro and the EU constitution. "What unites everybody is the belief we should be engaged in Europe...pushing the reform agenda," he said.

The YouGov poll of 50 chief executives of FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 companies showed 68 per cent believed the single market had been good for British business; 70 per cent said EU enlargement was good for business; and 78 per cent saw it as in their businesses' interests for Britain to stay in the EU.

A majority of 68 per cent supported efforts to liberalise the EU economy, along the lines of the services directive.

BNE couches its pro-business message in terms of the need for active engagement by Britain to make a reality of the single market. Mr Levin said: "The EU needs to focus on completion of the single market; the resurrection of the services directive; and the goals of the Lisbon agenda."

Mr Rudd said BNE would avoid the mistakes of its predecessor, which was perceived to have been too close to government and too entangled in politics.


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