According to the EEF, quitting the EU is the single biggest threat faced by British manufacturers. With Britain’s membership to the European Union hardly watertight, the manufacturing organisation has warned that continental alliance is the key to enduring economic success. “The biggest threat to our long-term economic wellbeing remains the prospect of leaving the EU,” explains EEF boss Terry Scuoler.
EU membership up in the air
The focus on retaining EU membership comes in the wake of a Conservative party pledge that promised to hold an in-out referendum on whether or not the UK should remain a member state. Cameron has confirmed that the vote will be held by 2017, which gives manufacturers a tight deadline to convince the public that membership is fundamental to the nation’s economic prosperity. While some people believe EU membership is holding Britain back, Scuoler stresses that “any drift or dithering on this issue will mean uncertainty for British businesses, which would be very unhelpful for the long-term prospects of the economy.”
As well as jeopardising the profitability of existing manufacturers, analysts also warn that leaving the EU will deter foreign investment and hinder wealth creation. In turn this will terminate jobs, limit expansion opportunities and seriously slow the UK’s progress at emerging from the economic recession.
The EEF backs EU membership so strongly that last year it even released an official manifesto that pleaded its case. The organisation maintained that membership to the EU “best served” the nation’s interests.
The EU has not always been well received however the EEF is highlighting the fact that a newly reformed politico-economic union would represent huge benefits for the UK. With trade, expansion of the free market and a commitment to improving economic growth and employment opportunities across all member states, the EEF upholds that membership is exactly what Britain needs.
The food industry will be facing a lot of uncertainty in the years leading up to the referendum, which experts warn is bad for investment and ultimately bad for business and trade. Duncan Swift, of food advisory group Moore Stephens says, “This will not be helpful – there will be uncertainty over inward investments and exports.”
Sceptics argue otherwise
Of course, not everyone agrees. UK organisation Better Off Out is one of the nation’s strongest sceptics, arguing that leaving the EU would be largely beneficial. The group maintains that without EU obligations Britain would be able to negotiate stronger trade deals with foreign nations, as well as enhance the state of the national economy and create more jobs. Better Off Out also argues that should Britain leave the EU the government would enjoy greater control over the country’s resources, national borders, NHS structure, immigration policies and legal systems.
While the official verdict is yet to be decided, no one can argue that EU membership gives the UK access to the world’s largest market. EU member states are made up of over 500 million consumers and in a reformed Europe, alliance could mean lucrative economic opportunities for Britain.