EU - in or out? IoD NI survey
14 March 2016
75% of IoD NI members polled say stay in EU but need more information
Three-quarters of Institute of Directors NI members who took part in a recent Brexit survey want the UK to stay in the European Union.
Asked how they would vote - given what they know now - 74.4% of the 211 respondents said they would vote to stay in, with 17.5% indicating they would vote to leave and 8.1% saying that they ‘don’t know’. Just under three-quarters (72.6%) said that their organisation does not benefit directly from EU funding.
The results of the IoD survey were revealed as Ian Sheppard, Chairman of the IoD NI’s Economic Strategy Committee and former IoD Northern Ireland Chairman Dr Joanne Stuart, appeared before the NI Affairs Committee at Stormont to give evidence on Brexit.
Speaking ahead of the hearing, Mr Sheppard said:
“While we will not be adopting a campaigning position as an organisation ahead of the referendum, the IoD is committed to informing the Brexit debate to encourage businesses to take up the discussion internally, weigh up all considerations and arguments and to assess if, and how, Brexit could impact upon them.
“For the majority of IoD members, their vote depends on EU reform being secured by the time of the referendum and that is an area we have been focusing on.
“Not enough boards and senior business managers are discussing Brexit for the purposes of risk assessment, exposure, identification, planning and preparation – and we would strongly urge more businesses to have these discussions, even if they don’t want to speak publicly about it. This is the most immediate priority as the genuine voice of businesses in the debate has been seriously under-represented.
“In Northern Ireland and some other UK regions, the use of EU structural funds in infrastructure development are particularly important. While the IoD doesn’t necessarily support blanket subsidies to create jobs and industry, it’s an important consideration in terms of resource channels for some firms and regional economies when considering the debate.
“Our survey suggests that the majority of our members want the UK to stay in the EU. The survey revealed a concern among members that leaving would cause serious disruption and uncertainty, with some claiming that Northern Ireland benefits hugely from membership of the EU, not just financially, but also in terms of unrestricted access to a huge market and skilled workforce.
“Some of those who would vote to leave the EU believe that there is too much red tape and centralised rules from Europe which penalise small employers, while one described the EU as an extremely wasteful and undemocratic institution which undermines democracy in its member states.”