Monday, 4 November 2013

Well, they would say that, wouldn't they?

MHO, the EU was originally a good idea (free movement of people and goods etc) especially when membership was restricted to a dozen or so similarly wealthy west European countries, but over the past twenty years it has changed into a massive horrible bureaucracy which does nothing other than rubber stamp regulations and subsidies on behalf of large businesses and other rent-seekers which act as barriers to entry or growth for small and medium sized businesses but over which larger businesses can easily vault (i.e. corporatism, which is a hybrid of the worst elements of Communism and of capitalism).

So it's interesting to compare and contrast what the various UK business lobbying groups say about the UK and the EU, although they all go along with the general politically correct message that overall it is better for the UK to stay in the EU subject to renegotiation blah blah blah (and none of them seems to have a clear single overall policy).

(And there's a heck of a lot of hairshirt bansturbation emanating from the EU, separate topic.)

1. The lobby group for very large businesses, the Confederation of British Industry is unashamedly pro-EU (and pro-subsidy etc), the only thing they moan about is the Working Time Directive:

The CBI is calling for the debate on Europe to focus on credible options for the UK's future relationship with the EU, warning that half-way house models such as Norway and Switzerland are not the answer.

Ahead of a key debate in the House of Commons on the timing of a potential EU referendum, the CBI is today (Friday) publishing new analysis of Norway's and Switzerland's relationships with the EU and rejects the notion that a similar form of associate membership would work for the UK.

2. The British Chambers of Commerce include more medium sized businesses. They tend to be apolitical but they are a tad more sceptical:

The manufacturing sector is still facing many challenges, but we know from our survey that many firms are enthusiastic, confident, and looking to expand and drive the recovery, as long as there is a supportive environment that fosters enterprise.

The trade figures continue to demonstrate the importance of diversifying our exports outside the EU. While progress is being made, the pace of rebalancing towards net exports is still inadequate.

There is huge untapped potential among British exporters, and the government must do more to help those firms enter new export markets. This will help them to compete on a level-playing field in areas such as trade finance, insurance, and promotion.

3. The Institute of Directors represents more small businesses (and tends to be traditional Conservativism) and so are more sceptical still:

Among the IoD membership there will be a broad range of views on EU membership, reflecting the country at large. For some, the free movement of goods and people within a single market is a triumph of our time. For others, the regulatory and financial burdens of membership raise questions about how well the system works - and for whom it is working.

There will also be many people who view the issue as a simple question of sovereignty. The financial crisis, combined with some very real concerns about the politics of Europe, has presented this country with an opportunity to examine the foundations of our EU membership…

79 per cent of IoD members have some form of business link with the EU, and 60 per cent agreed with the statement that "continued access to the Single Market is important to my organisation". However, there is a broad appetite for deep reform. Members cite home affairs, employment law and corporate governance as areas where powers should be repatriated.

4. The Federation of Small Businesses is unsurprisingly the most negative of all (they would like to turn the regulations on their heads so that they place a larger burden on large businesses while exempting small businesses entirely):

Small businesses are often hampered by EU legislation. The flow of regulation on employment, environmental issues, as well as health and safety can discourage businesses from expanding. It can even contribute to their closure.

Our Action not Words campaign highlighted the administrative burdens facing small businesses. We have long called for Europe to 'Think Small First' and consider exemptions, special measures and lighter regimes for micro businesses.

5. I'm not sure how big or small the member firms of the Engineering Employer's Federation are (probably a fair mixture of both) but they are always reliably and surprisingly left wing (some of the stuff they come out with makes them sound like a trade union):

As we once again debate the UK's future within the European Union, EEF has been consulting with manufacturers – across all sectors, sizes and regions across the UK – on their views. And what we have concluded is that manufacturing support for continued membership remains strong.

While there is much that could be improved, the benefits that the EU offers in terms of access to markets, efforts to level the playing field, free movement of people, access to partners and funding for greater levels of innovation are all important.


Lola said...

Re Rngineering - you should read the pro statist, pro subsidy bilge that gets into the New Civil Engineer trade mag.

Mark Wadsworth said...

L, fair enough, most "civil engineering" is carried out for the government, so that's what they lobby for more of.

DBC Reed said...

As Martin Wolf has made clear, the
right wing continues to support greater austerity in the UK, while bewailing the lack of export opportunities in Europe where they practise the self same austerity .Buffoons AND scoundrels.

Anonymous said...

right wing continues to support greater austerity in the UK, while bewailing the lack of export opportunities in Europe where they practise the self same austerity

Perhaps you haven't grasped the idea that controlling government spending does not imply that non government spending is to be subject to the same control.

DBC Reed said...

Perhaps you have n't grasped that I was following the argument of Martin Wolf in the New York Review of Books 11 July 2013 "How Austerity has failed"(on Net).He argues that the events of 2008 severely weakened the private sector .

Mark Wadsworth said...

DBC, Anon sort of makes a good point, but you both (as does Martin Wolf) overlook the fact that the UK government is spending money like water.

True to British tradition, this government is even worse than the previous one!

Admittedly this is mainly corporate subsidies and not "good stuff which benefits the little people" but there you go.

DBC Reed said...

The point is surely that the private sector is also not investing or spending money like water and so cutting State spending at the same time is disastrous: that old mixed economy thing they used to do in the old days where the two streams of spending complemented each other. The private sector uber alles theme is all very well when it is loaded but since it was damaged by the private sector banks' greed frenzy it probably does need help but in the form of massive demand (not supply) stimulus.
I always used to wonder what it was like in the 30's when the great and good did n't know what they were doing.

Mark Wadsworth said...

DBC: "The point is surely that the private sector is also not investing or spending money like water"

Good point. It's all going into land price bubbles or cheap imports.

"cutting State spending at the same time is disastrous"

That's the point. The Lib Cons are NOT cutting state spending - they are giving even more money to their private sector mates, who in turn are putting it into land price bubbles or cheap imports.

DBC Reed said...

Yes but the alternative: that the government does n't spend anything at all, or as little as the private sector, is no improvement. I am not talking about the guv dishing out money to private sector businesses like property developers (aka house shortage maintainers) but to the punters as increased wages; pensions; benefits or even national/citizens dividends.

Mark Wadsworth said...

DBC: "to the punters as increased wages; pensions; benefits or even national/citizens dividend"

Chance would be a fine thing!