THE BLOG

Airbus and Unilever Say UK Better Off In EU

22/01/2014 15:52 GMT | Updated 24/03/2014 09:59 GMT

Yesterday Airbus Group UK and Unilever, which together employ 23,000 people across the UK, added to the growing chorus of business voices urging Britain to remain in the EU. They join the ranks of Ford, Nissan, Siemens and major business groups such as the CBI, CityUK and manufacturers' organisation EEF, who have all warned in recent months that the UK should not blindly head for the EU exit door.

Their message is clear: the UK should remain in the EU and drive the quest for jobs and growth by leading reforms from within. Quitting the EU would mean losing unrestricted access to our largest market and losing any say over its rules. Just as the economy begins to show strong signs of growth, we would risk undoing all the hard work that has helped to put the country back on track.

Put simply, it's in Europe, in work. Hundreds of thousands of jobs, both directly and in the wider economy, have been created by companies who are attracted to the UK because we are an influential member of the EU. Airbus alone estimates that 100,000 jobs have been generated by its wing production, through a supply chain of over 400 companies all across the country. But rather than focusing on how we can create more jobs, UKIP and many Tories want to pull the UK out of Europe and put them at risk. Liberal Democrats, as the only real party of In, are determined not to let them. We believe that being part of the EU is firmly in the national interest and, while Labour sits on the fence, we aren't afraid to say it.

But understanding the fundamental importance of the EU for the economy doesn't mean slavishly defending everything about it. That is why Lib Dem MEPs have worked tirelessly to reform the EU from within, leading even the staunchly eurosceptic Daily Mail to name us the hardest-working British party in Brussels. Among other things, we've cut red tape for small businesses, reformed the EU's fisheries policies to end wasteful discards, and pushed for increased research spending while achieving a cut in the overall EU budget.

And there is a lot more want to achieve in the years to come. We'd like to see a more slimmed down, efficient Europe, more focused on boosting trade and jobs and less on regulation. We want a more democratic, transparent Europe that responds more directly to the concerns of voters, including by increasing the role of national parliaments in scrutinising EU legislation. Furthermore, we want a greener Europe that can deliver cleaner energy and sustainable jobs for the future. And finally, we believe in giving the British people a say in an In-Out referendum as soon as there is a major treaty change, and will campaign passionately for us to stay in.

But to achieve all this means staying the course and getting the job done. It is sheer make-believe to think that leaving the EU would magically solve all our problems. The truth is, it would cause most of them to become a whole lot worse. So let's not allow the eurosceptics to win the argument and throw our economic recovery away. Let's lead the fight to keep Britain in Europe, in work, and in the debate on how we reform the EU for the better.