3 reasons to raise the level of debate on Europe

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Continuing our series of blog on Manufacturing: Our Future in Europe, today we zero in on the quality of debate that we're seeing at the moment on Europe.

One of our key recommendations for government was to reframe the debate in terms of how EU membership can be good for growth and jobs in our economy. Here are three reasons why this is critical:

1. Myths and make-believe

There are a myriad of misconceptions that must be confronted by facts and better information about what the UK can and should prioritise and change in Europe. Here are a few of the myths and misunderstandings we've picked up.

2. What's this actually all about?

Not only are there a lot of misconceptions, manufacturers also feel that all sides of the debate are doing a poor job of articulating the issues at stake. A quarter of EEF members are currently confused about what all this could mean for their business and there is a large appetite to hear a stronger business perspective.

3. Providing certainty and offering a clear choice

If the debate is focused on problems that don't really start in Europe and offers up solutions that are undeliverable we can not possibly expect the public to make informed choices about our future in Europe nor will investors have a clear sense of what the UK's priorities are in relation to the negotiation of a new settlement.

We need policy makers to -

  • be clear that negotiations and discussions with European partners are being undertaken within the context of what is best for growth, jobs and living standards in the EU
  • give investors a strong pro-growth commitment in the UK's dealings with the EU, and companies will be better placed to take a stronger and more public stance in the current debate on where the UK's relationship with Europe goes from here.
  • not leave it too late to reframe the debate away from issues that are tangential to our economic potential. This would have long-lasting consequences; an exit would be irreversibleand would be going against the grain of international cooperation.

Author

Chief Economist

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