- Although all figures about the impact of the EU on jobs are contested, research suggests that at least 56,800 jobs have been created or safeguarded as a result of EU membership in the North West between 2007 and 2013.
- In the same time frame, 8,340 businesses have been able to open their doors in the North West because of EU funding.
- In the North West EU funding has helped over 15,000 start-up businesses, over 900 new social enterprises and more than 4,000 people with their skills development
- The North West Business Leaders Team (NWBLT) has warned against the UK leaving the EU, stating that the arguments for staying in are even more powerful from the point of view of the region than the UK as a whole.
- The NWBLT has committed its support for the UK remaining as a member of the EU, emphasising the large number of jobs which depend upon links with the EU.
It is hard to overstate how important our membership of the EU is for the British economy. Being a member of the EU means our businesses have access to the biggest single market in the world. That encourages more businesses to move to the UK, and for those here already encourages them to expand; that means more jobs. Experts estimate that one in every ten jobs in the UK depends on trade with EU countries - and many more will benefit indirectly.
The North West accounts for 8.9% of the UK’s manufactured exports – the third biggest contribution by any single region. The EU is the UK’s largest market for manufactured exports and this is no different in the North West. Over half (52%) of the region’s goods exports go to the EU, while 16% go to its second biggest market, Asia. It's little wonder that so many British businesses, large and small, say that they want us to stay - and warn that to leave would be a disaster.
The biggest single market in the world
Membership means businesses in the North West can sell their products to 500 million customers because the EU is the largest single market in the world. If you work for a business that sells products overseas, then chances are that you benefit from being part of the EU and selling to that enormous market.
Nearly half of all UK exports are sold into the EU - that's more than to anywhere else in the world. The figure is even higher for small and medium-sized businesses that sell overseas: for them, a massive 88% of their exports go to the EU. European Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from businesses into the UK is worth £543.7 billion. If we were to leave the EU it’s predicted the UK would eventually lose 2.25% of GDP, mainly because there would be less FDI flowing into the UK and the North West.
One in every ten UK jobs
Access to that single market isn't just an abstract idea, it's what persuades big international companies to decide they want to set up shop in the North West of England, and what allows small local businesses to get started in the first place and then keep growing. And more businesses in the North West means more jobs in the North West.
Across the UK as a whole, experts estimate that around more than three million jobs in the UK are linked to our trade with the EU - that's more than one job in every ten in the UK.
Businesses want us to stay
With all these advantages, it's little wonder the vast majority of British businesses want to stay in the EU. When the Confederation of British Industry, a group which brings together huge numbers of British businesses, asked its members what they thought, 71% said that being in the EU had an overall positive impact on their business - and 78% said they would vote to stay in. In manufacturing the figure is even higher - with 85% of EEF (the manufacturers’ organisation) members saying they would vote to stay.
This is not just the view of big, UK-wide businesses. Juergen Maier, North West Business Leader Team’s chair and the chief executive of Siemens UK, said: “The EU strengthens the position for us in the UK by reducing trade barriers and facilitating export growth and job creation. As the North of England looks forward to the prospect of a resurgence of national and international investment, it is vital to remain party to the trade agreements which EU membership gives us around the world.”
A spokesperson from Kelloggs’, the world’s leading cereal company, which is based in Trafford Park in Greater Manchester said: “Access to the European Union’s common market, with 500 million consumers across 28 countries, provides a unique platform from which we can grow our business. We’re in favour of the UK remaining an EU member state.”
What happens if we leave?
Economists talk in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which measures the total amount that a country is producing every year. If GDP is going up, things look good for the country - more money to go round, more jobs, and a better standard of life. If GDP is going down, we get what has become all too familiar recently - fewer jobs, lower wages and people struggling to make ends meet. Leaving the EU would almost certainly mean a significant fall in GDP. In the best case scenario, experts think our economy would shrink by over 2%. In the worst case scenario, it could be more like 7-9% - which is how much GDP fell by as a result of the global financial crisis.