European business groups step up campaign against Brexit

Leading business federations across Europe issued a plea to Britons on Thursday to vote to remain in the European Union in this month's referendum, saying they "firmly wish to see the UK remain an active and positive member of the EU.”

European Union Brexit
BusinessEurope, which represents 34 business groups throughout the continent, warned that European companies were already postponing decisions about investing in the UK because of fears that there could be a vote in favour of a Brexit on June 23.The message was reinforced in remarks on Thursday by Mariano Rajoy, Spain's prime minister, who said a vote to leave would result in UK citizens losing the right to live and move freely around Europe.Pointing out that more than 400,000 Britons lived and worked in Spain, compared to 100,000-plus Spaniards in the UK, he told Spanish news agency EFE, leaving the UK would be "negative for everybody, for the United Kingdom, for Spain, and for the European Union".He added, "But, above all, it would be very negative for British citizens – the European Union is based, ever since its foundation, on the principles of freedom of movement of people, goods, services, and capitals. Leaving the European Union would mean that British citizens would lose their right to move freely, work and do business within the largest economic area, the largest market in the world. If the United Kingdom left the European Union, it would be very negative for everyone and from every perspective."Amid mounting concern across Europe over the possibility of a British exit, Dutch PM Mark Rutte also rubbished Vote Leave proposals to introduce a post-Brexit points system for visas for EU citizens wanting to work and live in the UK.Mr Rutte told the BBC that such a scheme would inevitably be countered with a similar system the EU would introduce for UK citizens wanting to work in Europe."It would be unavoidable, inevitable for us and I think for many of us in Europe to follow the same proposals to implement a points system also in the rest of the European Union. So you would get a race to the bottom and that's exactly what you don't want," he said.Meanwhile, BusinessEurope warned in a statement, "Full access to the single market is a large part of the UK's attractiveness to foreign investors. Yet several federations report that European businesses are postponing their investment decisions in the UK until the political situation becomes clearer. A vote to leave the EU will only heighten the uncertainty around current and future investments as some tough negotiations will then begin.”"The referendum is a decision for the British people. But as representatives of businesses from 34 countries across Europe, we very much hope the UK stays part of a reformed European Union that is competitive, outward looking and delivers growth, jobs and prosperity for all."Paul Drechsler, president of the UK's Confederation of British Industry, said, "The business consensus – whether at home or from firms all across Europe and the Commonwealth which invest here – is unequivocally that the UK should remain inside the EU to best support economic growth and create jobs and prosperity.""Our allies across 33 other European countries who speak for millions of firms of all sizes want to see us build on our decades-long partnership and not risk a significant shock to the UK and global economy, that a vote to leave is expected to bring. With less than a month until the vote, it's time for those calling for a Brexit to come clean and provide credible evidence to back up their claims that the UK economy will be better off and opportunities for young people will not be hit in the years following such a result."Business federations represented by BusinessEurope come from Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Montenegro, Norway, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Turkey and the UK.

For more Relocate Global news and features about the implications of a vote for Brexit, visit our enterprise, UK and Europe sections.

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