The call was made by EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, ahead of the expected publication of a Referendum Bill this week.
EEF believes that now a referendum is certain to happen it is not in the UK’s long-term interest to wait until 2017 and it should take place in either May or the autumn of 2016.
EEF is also calling on the Prime Minister David Cameron to campaign positively for the UK to remain in the EU, emphasising the many benefits of continued membership alongside a pledge to work for reform with like-minded partners.
Andy Tuscher, Yorkshire and Humber Region Director at EEF, said: “Now a referendum is going to take place, we need to get on with the negotiations and hold the referendum as soon as possible. Business and investors hate uncertainty and the longer this drags on the more damaging it will be.
“It is good to see the Prime Minister forging ahead with an early meeting of his counterparts to make Britain’s case and Brussels is clearly signalling its willingness to engage. But, having put the recovery on a sound footing, we simply cannot afford to prevaricate on an issue of such importance.”