CBI Survey Shows Firms Want UK To Stay In EU
Almost eight out of 10 British firms want the UK to stay in the European Union, according to a survey released by the Confederation of British Industry.
Just 10% believe it would be in their favour to leave the organisation and 71% said membership had been positive for their business.
An overwhelming majority (86%) said an exit would affect their access to trading markets and business investment and 59% said it would make the UK less competitive.
The survey comes after EU chief Jose Manuel Barroso hit out at anti-European sentiment and warned the Tories they could be eclipsed by UKIP.
More than 400 businesses that together employ more than 1.5 million people were polled over the summer.
Three-quarters (75%) of the firms questioned said leaving would have a negative impact on foreign direct investment in the UK, Only 9% thought it would increase investment.
More than a third (35%) also said they would be likely to cut their own business investment if Britain quit, compared to 51% saying nothing would change and 6% saying they would spend more.
Firms did back reform of Britain's relationship with the EU.
Some 46% calling for an end to "gold-plating" of Brussels legislation and 39% wanting to see EU rules applied evenly across all member states.
Other priorities for reform included reducing regulation (39%) and making structural reforms for a more competitive EU (36%).
CBI director general John Cridland said: "This sends a clear message that most CBI members, big and small, support UK membership of the EU.
"Firms want what is best for jobs and growth, and there is genuine concern that an exit would hit business investment and access to the world's largest trading bloc.
"The UK should take the lead on the push for reform and make sure rules are evenly applied across the EU. Businesses are also concerned about the UK gold-plating legislation from Brussels.
"Businesses do have some serious concerns about the EU, but ultimately they want the UK inside the tent winning the argument for reform."
David Cameron has promised to renegotiate the terms of Britain's membership and then hold an in-out referendum on EU membership by 2017 if the Tories win the next general election outright.
The Prime Minister is already working to secure reforms and is believed to have made restricting migrants' access to benefits a key plank of negotiations.