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[ 23-01-2013 ]

Commenting on the Prime Minister’s Europe speech, Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said:
“The world is a very different place to what it was 40 years ago when the United Kingdom joined the then European Economic Community.  It is therefore right that the UK and Europe re-examine the relationship between the European Union and its member states with a view to ensuring that Europe is driven by economic needs and not the other way around.
“Scottish businesses are, in the main, supportive of many of the advantages provided by membership of the European Union, particularly around the free movement of trade and labour.  Europe is vitally important to Scottish trade, with figures published this week demonstrating that 46% of our exports go to other EU nations, and it is therefore of no surprise that a recent Chamber of Commerce survey of businesses throughout the UK found that 82% of firms wanted to see the UK remain within the EU.
“What business does want, however, is a Europe that meets its needs and expectations and is seen to be working towards maximising our economic prosperity.  Many European institutions are still perceived as being distant, opaque and bureaucratic and a re-examination of how Europe can be made more accessible and responsive to our needs is therefore desirable.
“However we do need to minimise uncertainty and the Prime Minister needs to act sooner.  We know that our relationship within Europe needs to be reassessed and Government needs to get on with this work now.  By delaying any referendum until after the next General Election, the Prime Minister is running the risk of his plans being perceived as being driven by politics rather than by policy.”