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The CEOs of BT, Cisco, IBM and Vodafone are among the 36 FTSE 100 business leaders who signed an open letter from Downing Street in favour of staying in the EU, published in The Times today (23 February 2016).
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Altogether, the list comprises 198 businessmen and women, including Martha Lane Fox, co-founder of Doteveryone and Lastminute.com.
Announcing the referendum on Sunday 21 February, prime minster David Cameron said: “I believe Britain will be stronger in a reformed Europe because we can play a leading role in one of the world’s largest organisations from within, helping to make the big decisions on trade and security that determine our future.”
In a report entitled Our Global Future, the CBI looked at the issue of EU membership and the benefits to the UK economy. The report stated: “By establishing an overarching set of regulatory principles, the single market’s four ‘fundamental freedoms’ enable goods, services, people and capital to move between countries within the EU with the same rights as in the home state – in theory maximising all aspects of openness between economies worth a quarter of world GDP in total.”
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According to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the creation of standardised rules and reduced barriers to cross-border trade within the bloc allows UK firms to buy and sell goods and services in an expanded market, seek capital and employ staff from across the continent, and tap into the economies of scale that can drive competitiveness and thus contribute to the productivity improvements needed to underpin Britain’s wider global trading ambitions.
Three-quarters of the CBI’s members said the open market has had a positive impact on their business. One business that has directly benefited from EU standards is Vodafone, thanks to Europe-wide mobile standards.
According to the CBI, the single market has also encouraged non-EU companies to enter the European market. One such organisation is Japanese firm Fujitsu, which employs almost 14,000 people in UK and Ireland. The CBI said the UK’s influence in Europe has been vital in helping shape Fujitsu’s pan-European public and private sector demand for the business services it provides.
“While there is still a great deal of progress to be made on the pan-European services market, the UK’s leadership in services is proving to be an increasingly powerful export tool globally into emerging markets,” the CBI report stated.