FAQs: Industry and the EU Referendum

What is ADS?
ADS is the UK trade association representing the Aerospace, Defence, Security and Space sectors. From technology and exports, to apprenticeships and investment, these sectors are vital to the UK’s growth.

ADS is focused on representing the interests of these wealth producing industries in the UK and overseas to key stakeholders, government and the media.

What is the European Union referendum?
The UK government has committed to holding a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU. The Conservative Party promised a referendum in their election manifesto and passed legislation at the end of 2015 to hold a referendum before the end of 2017.

The referendum will be a nationwide vote on whether the UK should stay in or leave the European Union. The question will be:

“Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”

When will the referendum take place?
The Prime Minister has announced that the referendum will be held on Thursday 23 June 2016.

Who can vote in the referendum?
British, Irish and Commonwealth citizens over 18 who are resident in the UK, along with UK nationals who have lived overseas for less than 15 years. Members of the House of Lords and Commonwealth citizens in Gibraltar will also be eligible, unlike in a general election. Citizens from EU countries – apart from Ireland, Malta and Cyprus – will not get a vote.

Do you want the UK to stay in the EU?
ADS represents the views of our sectors. They are clear that the UK’s continued membership of the EU is good for companies, their employees and the future prosperity of the country.

A survey of ADS members published in April 2016 found that 70% believe it would be better for their business if the UK remained in the EU. Opinion across all sizes of company and all four sectors is overwhelmingly in favour of the UK remaining part of the EU: 69% of SMEs say better to remain and 73% of larger companies say better to remain. Only 10% believe it would be better for their business if the UK left the EU – and 20% responded ‘don’t know / makes no difference’.

While voting is a matter for UK citizens, there are likely to be implications for businesses whichever way the vote goes and the voice of business will be important to ensuring an informed debate.

What are the benefits of EU membership to the UK’s Aerospace, Defence, Security and Space sectors?
A detailed economic assessment by KPMG has shown that the UK’s membership of the EU delivers significant benefits for the UK’s Aerospace, Defence, Security and Space sectors.

  • Doing business in the EU: EU membership makes doing business with Toulouse, Turin and Trier as easy as doing business with Norwich, Newcastle and Nuneaton. Our sectors benefit from free and easy access to trade and integrated pan-European supply chains. UK companies are often key suppliers, providing components, critical elements and sub-systems into Europe’s supply chain.
  • EU investment in the UK: The EU is an important source of funding for UK research, development, collaboration and innovation. Every year the EU funds almost £100m of UK R&D in our sectors – supporting well-paid jobs, innovation and high-tech exports in the UK. The UK stands to gain £2.5bn in space R&D funding by 2021 if we stay in the EU.
  • UK influence in the EU: Whether we’re in or out, the UK will have to meet EU regulations to trade with the EU. Our sectors value the UK’s ability to influence the rules of the EU single market and the global standards which shape the regulatory environment for our key customers and suppliers. When the UK engages and works with key EU partners, it has a good record in bringing about change that benefits UK growth.

Are you part of the ‘in campaign’?
No. We are not affiliated with any of the ‘in’ or ‘out’ campaign groups set up in advance of the referendum.

How do you know what your members think?
We have a thorough and ongoing consultation process facilitated by our committee and board structures.

A survey of ADS members, published in April 2016, found that 70% believe it would be better for their business if the UK remained in the EU. More information about the results of the survey can be found online here.

Do all your members want to stay in the EU?
The overwhelming majority of ADS members think it would be better for their business if the UK remained in the EU.

What happens if your members change their minds?
We keep in touch with our members regularly to make sure that we are getting it right. ADS surveyed its members again to seek their views after the UK’s renegotiation with the EU had been agreed.

How do you carry out your survey?
The survey of members in all four of our sectors was carried out on behalf of ADS by market analysts GfK. Following the conclusion of the Prime Minister’s EU renegotiation process, between 22 February and 23 March 2016 GfK surveyed ADS’ members on whether it would be better for their business if the UK voted to remain in the EU or to leave the EU. GfK is confident that the respondent profile surveyed is representative of the views of the ADS membership.

Who are ADS’ members?
ADS has over 900 members including companies of all sizes – from micro businesses right through to primes employing thousands of people in the UK. Over 850 of ADS members are SMEs.

Together, companies in the UK’s Aerospace, Defence, Security and Space sectors generate well-paid jobs, high-tech exports and sustainable growth right across the country. Our sectors generate £56bn a year for the UK economy, including £31bn in exports, and directly provide 310,000 jobs.

Are you calling for any changes to the EU?
Our sectors support the UK’s EU membership. However, this support comes with a clear call on the UK to improve the effectiveness of Brussels and to maximise the value of EU membership for the benefit of British businesses.

  • Proactively working to influence funding decisions and secure increased EU funding for investment in UK R&D and skills.
  • Becoming more engaged in EU decision-making in order to effectively champion UK issues in Brussels, including ensuring more UK nationals work in the Commission.
  • Delivering more effective governance, including rethinking regulation and a strategy for growth and competitiveness that focuses on completing key trade deals.

What does ADS think about the UK’s renegotiation with the EU?
The Prime Minister has demonstrated the UK can influence and shape the priorities of the European Union. The referendum represents the next important step in changing the UK’s relationship with Brussels, not breaking it.

Where can I go for more information about what the referendum means for my business?
While voting is a matter for UK citizens, there are likely to be implications for businesses whichever way the vote goes and the voice of business will be important to ensuring an informed debate.

Ahead of the referendum, companies will likely want to consider the potential impact of a change in Britain’s relationship with the EU on their businesses.

The CBI has produced an information pack to help businesses understand and prepare for the referendum. You can download a copy online here.