EU holds key to UK’s trading future

THE UK must carve out a new global trading role for itself as part of a new, rapidly-changing European Union.

CBI director-general John Cridland made the call as he outlined the importance of securing a ground-breaking EU-US free trade agreement to generate long-term UK growth and boost the flat domestic economy.

He called on politicians on both sides of the Atlantic to seize the moment during the first 100 days of President Barack Obama’s second term, to create a long-lasting economic legacy — and not risk looking back with regret in four or five years’ time.

“We can’t beat around the bush — we pack a bigger punch in securing trade deals inside the EU than outside,” he said.

“The US wants the big prize — access to a market of 500 million customers across the EU, not just 60 million on our own shores. So the best way of getting the right deal for the UK is on an EU-wide basis. The EU must be the launch- pad for UK business to trade with the rest of the world, carving out a new global role for ourselves.

“We need to recognise and adapt to the realities of the multi-speed Europe which is emerging. The fallout in the Eurozone from the debt crisis is not just forcing through rapid political and financial integration. It is also forcing all countries to fundamentally rethink the EU’s wider purpose and deal urgently with the sort of structural flaws Europe has ignored for decades. We must tread very carefully though. The debate about our future in Europe in 2013 must be based on an informed, hard-headed analysis of where our long-term economic and financial interests lie and business will need to make its voice heard.”

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