A vast majority of senior financial services executives want Britain to stay in the European Union but said reform is needed to cut the amount of regulation, according to a survey released on Wednesday (30 October).
CityUK, which champions Britain's financial industry, said an independent survey of 101 UK-based chief executives, chairmen and other senior officials at finance firms showed 84% wanted Britain to remain a member of the EU and 94% recognised the value of staying in the single market.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to renegotiate the terms of Britain's EU membership and hold an "in/out" referendum if re-elected in 2015, prompting fears it could drop out of the bloc, which it joined in 1973.
There is strong support in London, Europe's largest financial centre, to stay in the EU. The head of the City of London, Boris Johnson, last month said a UK exit could prompt an exodus of international banks and hurt the financial sector, which makes up about a tenth of Britain's gross domestic product.
UK business says staying in EU best option
CityUK said 65% of those in its survey said regulatory change was one of the most significant challenges to their business and more than half viewed the volume of EU regulation as one of their biggest hurdles.
It said eight out of ten said staying in the EU was the best option for the competitiveness of the UK as a financial centre.
"Our research has shown that the benefits of EU membership are numerous for our respondents, not least in the gains we make from trade, increased competition, and by providing access to the world's largest market," said James Nixon, CityUK's chief economist.
Referendum question should account for ignorance about EU membership
Meanwhile the UK Electoral Commission – the body charged with advising on issues surrounding referendums – yesterday advised the UK parliament to account for potential ignorance of EU membership in framing any future “in/out” plebiscite.
The Commission tested the question "Do you think that the United Kingdom should be a member of the European Union?" with members of the UK public.
Its research showed that a few people did not know whether or not the UK is currently a member of the EU and this presented a risk of misunderstanding.
The Commission has recommended that any future referendum question should be amended to: “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union?”
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