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West Midlands Chambers of Commerce says most firms in region support continued UK membership of the European Commission despite Jean-Claunde Juncker's appointment

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: July 12, 2014

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Most firms in the West Midlands are still supporting continued UK membership of the European Commission despite the Prime Minister's opposition to the nomination of Jean-Claude Juncker as president, new figures reveal.

The margin of West Midlands businesses who said withdrawal would have a negative impact on business remains unchanged from the last quarter in a survey conducted by the West Midlands Chambers of Commerce, involving more than 1,000 companies across the region.

The EU Business Barometer, produced by the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, in partnership with other West Midlands Chambers, showed that 58 per cent of firms believed that withdrawal from the EU would have a negative economic impact on the UK.

However, there was growing support for EU reform.

Fifty-four per cent believed remaining in Europe with powers repatriated to the UK would have a positive impact, up from 50 per cent in the previous quarter.

Forty per cent of businesses felt further integration into the EU would be negative, while 22 per cent thought it would be economically positive.

More than half of small businesses with one to 19 employees see withdrawal as a negative option.

Chris Plant, director of Chase Chamber said: "The European Union is a major trading partner for the West Midlands.

"The value of exports from the region to EU countries stood at over £11 billion in 2013.

"This has grown by 25 per cent since 2010. Europe is a powerful incubator market for businesses looking to export to longer-haul destinations.

"The West Midlands Chambers' 2014 EU Manifesto emphasised the need for MEPs to help represent the local business community in Brussels, minimise unnecessary red tape and communicate the funding opportunities available to region."

Mr Plant added: "Our second survey of the year has revealed that local businesses see potential withdrawal from the EU as damaging to the British economy.

"The EU remains a crucial trading partner for the UK and it is important that Britain retains access to the Single Market so that local businesses can expand into Europe without having to deal with trade barriers.

"We urge the Government to heed our members' opinion on this issue and avoid moving the UK closer to the EU exit door."

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