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Business respond to EU referendum

David Cameron's calls for the deal between the UK and the European Union (EU) to be renegotiated have been backed by business leaders.

This week, the prime minister confirmed that he wants to change the nature of Britain's relationship with the EU. A revised deal would then be put before voters in a referendum in 2017, with the public being offered the chance to decide whether or not they wish to remain part of the international body.

According to the CBI, the EU single market is "fundamental" to the UK's future economic success. However, director-general John Cridland insisted that becoming part of the single European currency would not be a positive move.

"The prime minister rightly recognises the benefits of retaining membership of what must be a reformed EU," he commented.

Mr Cridland confirmed that the CBI will work closely with the government in order to ensure Britain gets the best deal.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) added that the "vast majority" of businesses in the UK are keen to remain part of the single market, as long as it encourages trade and competitiveness.

John Longworth, director-general of the BCC, commented: "It is of critical importance to business and to Britain's national interest that we have access to the European market, but not at any cost."

As a result, he believes Mr Cameron is right to call for a renegotiated settlement between the UK and the EU.

Mr Longworth has urged the prime minister to do all he can to secure an "ambitious and far-reaching settlement", as Britain is currently in a strong negotiating position, since it is not in the EU's interests to see it leave.

He said Europe will be under pressure to take Mr Cameron seriously as the prospect of a referendum on Britain's EU membership will demonstrate that he is genuinely "prepared to walk away from the table".

However, Mr Longworth insisted the government must make the outline of any deal known before the end of this parliament in order to reduce uncertainty and maintain business confidence over the next few years.

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