BUSINESSES should fully engage with the debate on EU reform and how its relationship with commerce could become more effective.
That’s the clarion call from the Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies (CCAB), the umbrella organisation for accountancy bodies in the UK and Ireland.
The call follows the launch of a new CCAB-commissioned report, “Business in Europe: Research Reforms for Sustainable Growth”, which stresses the importance of access to accurate, evidence-based information to inform the debate.
It found that many UK business leaders feel that reform could create a more efficient and productive relationship between the UK and EU. A key trend was a level of disconnect with the EU, evidenced by a “variance in depth of understanding as to the precise role of the European Union, and clarity on the reforms being proposed.”
Among the areas being explored are greater accountability and transparency at EU level; closer harmonisation of reporting regimes including taxation; measures to facilitate greater movement of labour; a harmonisation of EU economic structures; and a clearer statement of national and EU responsibilities.
The challenge of communicating an operating model for the EU with clearly outlined principles and responsibilities ahead of the upcoming referendum on membership is another key area for concern, the report found.
Respondents also found the EU is perceived as both “distant and opaque” although there was also consensus among business leaders that EU regulation impacting the UK, either directly through EU membership or through trading with EU partners was beneficial, essential and valuable.
Tony Nicholl, CCAB chairman, said: “We believe that this report, and the discussion that it has provoked, can be an important contribution to the debate. It includes some clear recommendations on how reform could be used to transform the EU relationship and set a new foundation for collaboration on areas of mutual interest. It provides a valuable insight into the views of UK business leaders, which I hope our political leaders will take on board.”
Bernie Coyne, co-author of the report, said: “Business leaders are calling for greater transparency and accountability from the EU along with a commitment to address the democratic deficit whereby decisions affecting member states are often taken by unelected officials in Brussels. The research suggests that there is a need for greater consultation between the business sector and EU legislators to provide a more effective and sustainable model.”
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