Which way on the EU for SMEs?

Within days of the UK election results the advantages and disadvantages of EU membership are already being discussed by businesses.

While many businesses have signalled that “Brexit” would be a bad thing for them and for the UK economy given that the EU is our largest trading partner, some have begun to disagree.

Chief among them are the chief executive of JCB, Graeme Macdonald, who is quoted in the Guardian this week as saying that the UK is far too important a trading nation to be simply pushed to one side. Is he right or is this hubris?

Previously the newly-appointed Business Secretary Sajid Javid and the newly-appointed commercial secretary to the treasury Jim O’Neill, the former chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, have both opined that the UK has nothing to fear from leaving the EU.

O’Neill, in fairness, has also said that staying in the EU would be preferable but he is also a believer in the opportunities that will be available to UK businesses from the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China).

While it may be OK for JCB who already sell outside Europe, what does all this mean for the UK’s SMEs? For the time being, it’s likely to mean continued uncertainty when planning their future, not least because of the scarcity of funding for overseas marketing or for the R&D necessary to compete in international markets.

Much has also been made of the burden of Euro red tape holding back SMEs, though rarely is there any detail on what this means. Presumably it includes employment, Health and Safety and banking regulation.

What does Red Tape mean to your business and what would make life easier?

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