The EU and jobs

The EU creates jobs and helps our economy grow in Surrey

  • Although all figures about the impact of the EU on jobs are contested, research suggests that around 66,854 jobs in Surrey could be dependent on our membership of the EU.
  • Many global companies have a UK or European base in Surrey. These include Syngenta, and a number of others, at Surrey Research Park, plus Allianz, Ericsson, Colgate-Palmolive and Sanofi, all in Guildford; Siemens in Frimley; the McLaren Technology Group, Alent Plc and Fidessa, in Woking; Kuoni and Johnston Sweepers in Dorking; and Kimberley-Clark in Reigate. Losing access to the European single market could be a considerable blow to these firms, and may make them reconsider their position in the UK.
  • When the Surrey Chambers of Commerce held an event in Guilford earlier this year, 170 out of the 172 businesses who attended said they wanted to stay in the EU. 

 

Introduction

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, and that they only have to comply with one set of rules across the EU, rather than 28 different sets of rules.  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. HMRC calculated that 3,332 businesses in the South East export goods to the EU, benefitting from access to the Single Market.  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 South East 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 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 South East.

The farming community is also concerned. Leaving the EU would mean farms losing access to EU CAP funding, and would cause severe labour shortages. On top of that, if the UK was outside the EU and outside the single market, World Trade Organization rules would apply to our foreign trade, meaning that the imports could not be restricted on environmental or animal welfare grounds- putting Surrey farmers at a disadvantage.

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 South East of England, and what allows small local businesses to get started in the first place and then keep growing.  And more business in the South East means more jobs in the South East.  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. Here in Surrey, research suggests that up to 66,854 jobs could be dependent on trade with the EU*.

Constituency

Jobs estimated in 1997

Jobs estimated today

Constituency

Jobs estimated in 1997

Jobs estimated today

East Surrey

3372

3962

Reigate

4355

5117

Epsom & Ewell

2684

3154

Runnymede & Weybridge

6680

7849

Esher & Walton

4577

5378

South West Surrey

4965

5834

Guildford

6037

7093

Spelthorne

7668

9010

Mole Valley

5369

6309

Surrey Heath

6074

7137

Woking

5116

6011

TOTAL SURREY

56897

66854

 

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.  But this is not just the view of big, UK-wide businesses.  When the Surrey Chambers of Commerce held an event in Guilford earlier this year, 170 out of the 172 businesses who attended said they wanted to stay in the EU.  The Chief Executive of Siemens UK - which has a large facility in Frimley, Camberley- has said that leaving the EU would be “disastrous” for British manufacturing, saying “There are 2,350 businesses in our automotive supply chain, which are dependent for their prosperity on foreign-owned car manufacturers, half of whose exports go to the EU. At Siemens we have calculated that 25,000 jobs in the supply chain are dependent on UK operations, many of which are in small or medium-sized British businesses that often export to the EU through us.”

What happens if we leave?

Economists talk in terms of Gross Domestic Product, or 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. 

 

* These figures are all based on ONS statistics. First, I took constituency figures from a report produced by Brian Ardy, Iain Begg and Dermot Hodson in 1997 called ‘UK Jobs dependent on the EU’, and increased them by 17.5% for the current day (with any fraction of a job rounded up from 0.5). The 17.5% figure is from 2014 research by the Centre for Economic and Business Research, which suggested that since 1997 there has been an increase of 17.5% in jobs in the South East dependent on trade with the rest of the EU. Please note that the figures are given in relation to 1997 parliamentary constituencies, so if the boundaries of your constituency have changed since then, you will need to take this into account when talking about the figures.