BUSINESS leaders have called for EU reforms to create more jobs and increase living standards.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has warned politicians must act decisively and introduce change on the back of the European elections.

John Cridland, CBI director-general, will today set out priorities for reform in four areas.

Loading article content

He says the EU must agree more trade deals, including partnerships with the US, and has called on national leaders to make political commitments and add impetus to the Single Market and tackle the regulatory burden.

Mr Cridland, speaking alongside former Prime Minister and Sedgefield MP Tony Blair, will also say the EU should delay new legislation where there is a strong argument for national decision making, while introducing safeguards as the Eurozone integrates to protect the Single Market for countries outside the euro.

He said: “The European elections have focused the mind on the challenge facing politicians.

“With growth only just returning and youth unemployment across Europe still more than 20 per cent, it is no wonder people want the EU to change.

“Leaders across Europe are recognising this, how could they not given the shock to the system from these results across the continent?

“With challenge comes opportunity and a chance for a new look at what Europe does and how it goes about it in the twenty-first century.

“It is a chance for change.

“The starting point for that vision is a global perspective; we need to look outwards to the world as it changes.

“Our membership of a reformed EU is the best platform to do that.

“We must not forget the value to the UK’s economy of having access to a market of over 500 million people.”

Mr Cridland will also speak about business reform.

He added: “Businesses large and small are clear that membership of the EU is in the UK’s national interest.

“But the status quo won’t do, we cannot waste this window of opportunity with a new parliament and commission this year to achieve a reformed EU.

“There must be a greater sense of urgency to boost the Single Market, sign trade deals and make sure the EU works for all member states, whether in the Eurozone or not.

“We must improve regulation and the new commissioners will need to resist the temptation to reach for the regulatory lever.

“We need an EU that is making a genuine effort at subsidiarity, allowing member states including national parliaments to take the lead where Europe isn’t needed.

“Reform is achievable but we’ll need our MEPs of all colours, many of them new, fully engaged, working hard and building alliances.”