The UK's relationship with the European Union remains a hot media topic, not least because of the televised Clegg/Farage debates over the last few weeks. All in all press coverage and debate have generated a lot of heat but not much light on the subject.
What do we want? A better debate
But manufacturers will be hoping this changes in the next 45 days as the UK (and the rest of the EU) in the run up to the European Parliamentary elections. We've regularly blogged about manufacturers' views on the EU - companies want to stay in; they want to see a greater focus on growth and they want to hear a much higher standard of debate about the EU's future.
Today EEF is setting out its prospectus for the next Parliament focusing on the next wave of policies to support growth and competitiveness in the region and the structural evolution necessary to deliver effective and efficient policy making across the bloc. Importantly, the manifesto issues a call for a more positive debate about the UK's role in Europe and more clarity around how the UK's political representatives would seek to evolve its priorities and institutions.
Here's our top 5 asks:
- Open up trade and investment opportunities with ambitious trade deals while maintaining a level playing field by fighting against protectionist laws and practices.
- Maintain a competitive cost base across the EU with a smarter approach to Health and Safety regulation, limiting the complexity of REACH and delivering emissions reductions cost effectively.
- Prioritise investment in innovate to support the development of the technologies and sectors which can support growth and collaboration.
- Introduce a powerful 'Red tape Taskforce' which adopts a one-in, one-out approach to regulation; produces an annual statement of regulation costs and oversees a competitiveness test on new laws.
- Streamline the number of directorates and encourage clustering where there is policy-making overlap.
When do we want it? Before the electorate heads to the polls
At the last European Parliament elections in 2009 fewer than 35% of voters turned out - the 7th lowest in the EU. Many representatives from the business community - from financial services to the car industry- have spoken out about the importance of the UK staying in the EU. Over the next six weeks we need to hear more about priorities to support growth and jobs in the UK and across the EU from all parts of the political spectrum.
"We strongly support Britain's continued membership of the EU. The Commission and the other EU institutions must now work tirelessly to support business and industry and, promote economic growth." Terry Scuoler, EEF CEO