May 28, 2015 / 3:02 PM / 2 years ago

What business thinks about Britain's referendum on EU membership

(Reuters) - Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged to renegotiate Britain's ties with Europe and then give voters a referendum on European Union membership by the end of 2017.

Following are the views of business leaders:

Lloyd's of London Chief Executive Inga Beale:

"We believe it (leaving) would be bad for business. We think that open trade and being part of a bigger community is very important. I would wholeheartedly welcome a stronger Europe, rather than countries becoming smaller and less important in the world on their own."

National Grid Chief Executive Steve Holliday:

"We cannot afford to lose the access to (European) energy supplies and interconnection, whatever the framework is eventually. Being part of the European energy market is unquestionably essential for the UK."

Marks & Spencer Chief Executive Marc Bolland:

"I feel that some of those (European) reforms can be done and should be done. Actually, I think the best judgement call for Britain to take is to see what the result of the reforms are before they take a point of view (on EU membership)."

"Europe is very important for Marks & Spencer because we have over 100 stores within the EU."

Confederation of British Industry (CBI) President Mike Rake:

"Business must be crystal clear that membership is in our national interest. The EU is key to our national prosperity," Rake will say at CBI's annual dinner on Wednesday.

"Business has increasingly spoken out on this crucial issue and the time has come to turn up the volume."

Vodafone Chief Executive Vittorio Colao:

"The decision to stay or to end it is clearly a political decision for the voters and this is for the British citizens to decide. As Vodafone, we are convinced that for our shareholders, our customers and the company itself, it would be good to stay in Europe and it would be good to support the creation of a single digital market.

"Europe needs a large digital marketplace in order to be competitive with America and China essentially, and to be part of it we are convinced is in the interest of Vodafone shareholders and Vodafone customers.

"Uncertainty is never good for business, but again Vodafone is very large, we are in many countries inside and outside Europe, so we can deal with uncertainty. It is never good but we can deal with it."

JCB Chief Executive Graeme MacDonald:

"I really don’t think it would make a blind bit of difference to trade with Europe. There has been far too much scaremongering about things like jobs. I don’t think it’s in anyone’s interest to stop trade. I don’t think we or Brussels will put up trade barriers.

"What is needed is a lot less red tape and bureaucracy. Some of it is costly for us and quite frankly ridiculous. Whether that means renegotiating or exiting, I don’t think it can carry on as it is. It’s a burden on our business and it’s easier selling to North America than to Europe sometimes."

HSBC Chairman Douglas Flint:

"Our economic analysis says that the balance of advantage lies with staying in Europe and working within Europe to make it more competitive. More stability and certainty is better for economic progress, because people can make decisions if they can foresee what the framework of policy is going to be."

British Bankers Association Chief Executive Anthony Browne:

"Some banks have recently moved operations and jobs out of the UK due to punitive hikes in bank taxes. Other banks have deferred decisions about whether to invest in Britain until after the referendum."

Reporting by Paul Sandle and James Davey; Editing by Alison Williams

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