Today SMMT, the trade association representing the automotive sector, published the results of its new survey of members’ views on the EU. 77% of its members say remaining in Europe is best for their business, with overwhelming support for EU membership among both large companies and SMEs.
The majority of companies surveyed were positive about the impact of the UK’s membership of the EU on their business; particularly in the case of access to EU markets, access to a skilled workforce and the ability to influence industry standards and regulations. These findings chime with those of ADS’ own research.
The EU guarantees free trade across Europe and pushes for free trade across the globe, and the UK’s easy access to EU markets is a significant reason for many inward investment decisions. With 89% of ADS Member companies exporting to Europe, any potential barriers brought about by Brexit, such as tariffs and customs check, could hinder long-term investment decisions.
As a member of the EU, the UK has a significant influence in the setting of standards and regulations, at both a global and regional level. It is currently a powerful member of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and has a seat on the UN body that helps to set global standards and recommendations on civil aviation.
However, if the UK were to leave the EU, its prominent position and strong level of influence over the future development of EASA, as well as the day to day direction of European aviation safety standards, could be diminished. This could mean that UK companies across the aerospace and aviation sectors may be in a position where they have to comply with European regulations, requirements and standards, but do not have the ability to significantly influence their development.
Similarly to the SMMT, the majority of ADS’ members also support remaining in the EU, for reasons of prosperity, trade and influence. In the run-up to the referendum the voice of business will be important to ensuring an informed debate.