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FACTBOX-British business executives speak out over Europe

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Thu, 17 Jan 2013 13:28 GMT
Author: Reuters
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LONDON, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Prime Minister David Cameron will deliver a speech on Friday setting out his plans for Britain's future in the European Union, and leading figures in the business community are concerned that it could lead ultimately to an exit from the bloc.

Here are some quotes from business leaders:

MARTIN SORRELL, chief executive of WPP :

"So you'd like to have better terms, but being in and trying to change it from within, in my view, is better than being outside and trying to change it from outside. The analogies with Switzerland, which has taken 10 years to negotiate bilateral trade agreements, and Norway, which pays about 80 percent of what we pay and has no influence, do not strike me as impressive analogies."

MIKE RAKE, chairman of BT, easyJet and deputy chairman of Barclays :

"We are extremely concerned that this should be done in a constructive way, that this doesn't end up in unintended consequences through the style and the approach of the negotiations. We understand the political pressures on the prime minister, but we think it is time for the business community to speak out, because if we're not careful it will create uncertainty. It's about growth and jobs and prosperity, nothing else."

WOLFGANG SCHREIBER, CEO of Bentley Motors:

"This (possible U.K. exit from EU) could well influence our business. It's acceptable for Britain to keep the pound while the continent has the euro. But quitting the EU could be dangerous for Bentley. This wouldn't be a good thing for us."

ANDY PALMER, executive vice president of Nissan :

"We embrace the concept of free trade. We lobby, for example, for free trade in Europe and Japan. The same principles apply for any trading block. The priority for us is basically that free trade."

SIMON WOLFSON, CEO of Next :

"Britain should stay in Europe, but only on the right terms. There is little to fear from a two-speed Europe, as long as Britain remains in the slow lane. If other 'core' European countries want to lock themselves into more regulation, less democracy, and greater federalism, that's their decision. But we should take courage and resist the temptation to follow the crowd."

JOHN BASON, CFO of Associated British Foods :

"As a businessman I would say that an open European market where we can go about our business in the most efficient way is in the interests of ABF. I would not want to see anything that would prejudice that. An open market for the movement of goods and services around Europe of which Britain would be a part would be something we would embrace."

IAN ROBERTSON, global sales chief of BMW :

"We believe the UK not only has to be a member of the EU, it has to be a strong and active member of the EU. From that perspective, we do not want to see anything that undermines that. The EU trading block is one of the biggest and strongest in the world, and 47 percent of our business is in Europe (including the UK), and the UK is our fourth-largest market in the world. We've made our point clear: we want a strong position for the UK in Europe."

SEBASTIAN JAMES, CEO of Dixons Retail :

"My view is you take the world as you find it otherwise you go mad and I'm not sure that (Cameron's attitude) will make a massive difference to our business one way or another."

TERRY SCUOLER, CEO of manufacturers organisation EEF:

"The politics of our relationship with Europe have always been complicated, but the government must rise above this and do what is best for growth, jobs and investment. The UK's economic well-being is heavily linked to our biggest trading partner and we cannot afford to risk the disruption that leaving the EU would cause. However, there is no doubt that the EU needs to change if it is to succeed in the global race." (Reporting and writing by Kate Holton, additional reporting by Helen Massy-Beresford, Laura Noonan, Laurence Frost, Andreas Cremer, James Davey and David Milliken; Editing by Will Waterman)

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