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The EU Question

by Brian Sims
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI: Editor of Risk UK

Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI: Editor of Risk UK

KPMG has conducted an extremely interesting economic assessment. Carried out on behalf of leading trade body ADS Group, the analysis – underpinned by in-depth interviews with industry leaders – aimed to decipher whether or not the UK’s membership of the European Union (EU) delivers key and tangible benefits for our defence and security sectors.

Also focusing on the aerospace and space markets, the work assessed the plus-points of membership for all four key sectors’ global competitiveness in terms of access to EU markets and supply chains, skilled workers and EU-driven funding for investment here in the UK.

Importantly, the results are backed by a GfK NOP survey of ADS’ 900 members on their views of how the UK’s membership of the EU impacts the stated business communities.

Reviewing KPMG’s findings in detail, an overwhelming 86% of interviewees questioned believe it would be better for their business if the UK were to remain part of the EU, with only 2% indicating that any form of exit strategy post-referendum would be more beneficial for them.

Nearly 60% of respondents cited free trade within the EU as delivering core benefits to their business, closely followed by the simplification of regulations and overall economic growth. Those questioned also asserted that the forthcoming EU referendum presents an opportunity around prioritising increased funding from the EU for those UK companies wishing to invest in R&D.

Across all four business sectors there was general agreement that the second priority for change should be concentrated on greater UK engagement with Brussels.

Commenting on the study’s results, Paul Everitt – CEO of the ADS Group – explained: “Our industries are clear that the UK’s continued membership of the EU is good for companies, their employees and the future prosperity of the home nations. However, this detailed assessment has clearly shown that our sectors want to see change inside the EU with more focus on promoting growth, investment in skills, innovation and competitiveness. They also wish to see our Government raising its game to maximise UK influence and the level to which companies benefit from support and funding that’s available.”

Not surprisingly, the in-depth KPMG assessment highlights the demonstrable value of modern industrial strategies when it comes to improving productivity across the UK.

On that note, the UK’s defence, security, aerospace and space industries have all outpaced national productivity levels by some considerable margin. Collectively, they realise an impressive annual turnover of £56 billion, provide over 300,000 high value, highly-skilled jobs and support nigh on 800,000 roles. In short, they’re vital cogs in our continually revolving economic wheel.

The UK’s EU referendum is scheduled to take place before the end of 2017, in turn opening a window for the EU itself to develop a positive and proactive economic agenda. One that examines how to work with Member States in enhancing the single European market’s performance on the worldwide stage.

Are we better together? The UK’s security and defence sectors’ leaders have spoken. Their answer veers towards the affirmative.

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