EU membership benefits UK by up to £78bn, says CBI

Confederation of British Industry reports says benefits to UK from EU membership ‘have significantly outweighed’ costs

The CBI put the value of EU membership as 4-5 per cent of UK GDP. Photograph: Dieter Spannknebel

The CBI put the value of EU membership as 4-5 per cent of UK GDP. Photograph: Dieter Spannknebel


Membership of the European Union benefits the United Kingdom by up to £78 billion (€92 billion) a year – equal to the economies of Northern Ireland and the northeast of England, the Confederation of British Industry says today.

The CBI says the benefits to the UK from EU membership “have significantly outweighed the costs”; that the UK is influential in the EU and that it “can remain influential”.

‘Fundamental’ to growth
In a major report, the business body insists EU membership benefits firms “large and small”, while the EU single market is “fundamental” to the UK’s economic future, boosting living standards and amplifying the UK’s role globally.

“For British business, large and small, the response to this is unequivocal: we should remain in a reformed EU,” it said, claiming it had “comprehensively and objectively analysed the advantages and disadvantages”.

The EU supports UK businesses’ global ambitions by significantly influencing “the rules, policies and priorities” of global trade, anchoring the European Union through “high-quality, ambitious” free-trade agreements”.

‘Far from perfect’
However, the CBI backs reform: “The EU is far from perfect. Business has frequently criticised many aspects of the regulations that the UK negotiates in Brussels. While being part of club of 28 countries inevitably means compromise, there is particular annoyance at the sense of a creeping extension of EU authority – regulating on trivial issues, sometimes counter to the wishes of the UK and its citizens, rather than focusing on the big-picture issues like growth, trade and the single market.”

Examining the value of EU membership, the CBI puts it between 4-5 per cent of UK GDP, “or between £62 billion and £78 billion per year – roughly the economies of the north-east and Northern Ireland taken together”.

“This suggests households benefit from EU membership to the tune of nearly £3,000 a year – with every individual in the UK around £1,225 better off,” said the CBI document, Our Global Future.

Ireland is put as the UK’s fifth-largest export market, taking 5.5 per cent of its output, behind the US, Germany, the Netherlands and France.