A new survey finds that business leaders would consider bringing some parts of their businesses back to Europe if the EU reformed to become more competitive. In a new survey conducted by CBI, a UK-based lobbying group for businesses, senior leaders of firms also called for political action to increase labor market flexibility and ensure that the boundaries between the European Commission and national parliaments are “better respected.”

Research agency Millward Brown, on behalf of CBI, surveyed more than 50 senior business leaders in the UK, Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands who collectively employ over a million workers and generate billions of dollars in annual revenues. The survey revealed that 60 percent say that EU reform and better regulation would lead them to reshoring their businesses, adding much more can be done to bump up that trend.

The survey comes as a delegation from CBI heads to Brussels to discuss the issue with the UK Prime Minister, ahead of the European Council. According to the UK’s the Guardian, the CBI is concerned about the “vociferous” anti-EU rhetoric which will increase support for Britain “going it alone” outside the single market.

“This snapshot survey shows a real appetite across the continent to reform the EU and bring more jobs back to Europe,” says Katja Hall, CBI chief policy director.

“Some companies are already making waves on this front, but it’s clear much more must be done by politicians for firms to accelerate the trend for reshoring. European businesses want a single market fit for the 21st century, better regulation and a Commission that respects national boundaries, to help reel in some of the jobs that have been lost overseas.”

The snapshot survey also showed that 40 percent of respondents are in favor returning their businesses “in principle” compared to only 6 perfect who are against it. Some 32 percent have moved some activity back to the home market in the last three years, the survey found. While less than a quarter of firms say they will “probably” or “definitely reshore” in the next three years, a staggering 62 percent say they have no plans to do so.

Of those companies that have reshored, 73 percent identify better quality within their home market as a critical factor. The importance of having access to the Single Market is highlighted by 54 percent of respondents who say faster market responsiveness was behind their decision to reshore.

Fifty-four percent also reshored to improve their proximity to their market and half cited the resilience of supply chains in Europe.

CBI’s survey found that companies called for a number of EU reforms to make it more likely they bring operations back to Europe:

  • Reduce the EU regulatory burden on business (60 percent)
  • Make the European labor market more flexible (52 percent)
  • Get a better balance between regulation at the EU and Member State level (39 percent)
  • Make progress to complete the EU digital Single Market (29 percent)
  • Complete the EU Single market in services (25 percent)
  • Sign more EU trade deals with fast-growing economies (21percent)
  • Among the types of activity either being reshored or business could reshore, are customer-facing services, manufacturing of goods, final assembly of goods and business process outsourcing.

“We need a Europe that is outward-looking, signing more trade deals and opening up fast-growing markets in all corners of the world,” added Hall. Hall said that the EU must “Think Global First” on regulation, to make sure it remains competitive and helps European firms, not hold them back.

“As for the UK, if we can build alliances to deliver reform in the corridors of Brussels, then we can ensure that the EU supports job creation and growth,” said Hall.


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