CBI urges EU leaders to boost jobs and living standards

John Cridland, director-general of the CBI
John Cridland, director-general of the CBI
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THE Confederation of British Industry will tomorrow set out the business vision for a reformed European Union with a focus on boosting jobs and raising living standards.

Appearing at an event in London alongside former Prime Minister Tony Blair, CBI director-general John Cridland will urge all politicians not to waste the opportunity for change.

Euroscepticism is rising up the political and social agenda across the continent with anti-EU and far-right parties winning an increasing shares of votes from disenfranchised electorates.

Mr Blair has offered his services in a pro-European role during a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week, the Financial Times reported.

He is expected to use the CBI event in London today to urge politicians to resist the rise of populism.

Mr Cridland will set out four areas where the EU must change:

* The EU must be outward-looking, agreeing more trade deals, such as with the US - a once in a lifetime opportunity

* The EU’s national leaders must urgently make a political commitment to give impetus to completing the Single Market and tackling the regulatory burden

* The EU should do more of what it does well, like trade and the Single Market, and less of what it does badly – there should be a moratorium on any new legislation where there is a strong argument for national decision-making

* The EU must introduce safeguards as the Eurozone integrates to protect the Single Market for countries outside the Euro.

Mr Cridland said: “The recent European elections have focused the mind on the challenge facing politicians.

“With growth only just returning and youth unemployment across Europe still over 20 per cent it is no wonder people want the EU to change.

“Leaders across Europe are recognising this – how could they not given the shock to the system from these results across the continent?

“With challenge comes opportunity, a chance for a new look at what Europe does and how it goes about it in the twenty-first century. A chance for change.

“The starting point for that vision is a global perspective, we need to look outwards to the world as it changes.

“Our membership of a reformed EU is the best platform to do that. We must not forget the value to the British economy of having access to a market of over 500 million people.”

Mr Cridland said businesses small and large are clear that membership of the EU is in the UK’s national interest.

“But the status quo won’t do, we cannot waste this window of opportunity with a new Parliament and Commission this year to achieve a reformed EU,” he said.

“There must be a greater sense of urgency to boost the Single Market, sign trade deals and make sure the EU works for all member states whether in the Eurozone or not.

“We must improve regulation and the new Commissioners will need to resist the temptation to reach for the regulatory lever. We need an EU that is making a genuine effort at subsidiarity, allowing member states including national parliaments to take the lead where Europe isn’t needed.

“Reform is achievable but we’ll need our MEPs of all colours, many of them new, fully engaged, working hard and building alliances.”

Mr Blair told the BBC last week that rationale for a closer Europe is stronger now than it has ever been and that European leaders must confront and expose parties like UKIP, which do not hold the answers to today’s problems.