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PwC boss Powell backs EU reform agenda

A MANIFESTO released by a pro-EU business group that seeks to reform the EU has gained the support of PwC chairman and senior partner Ian Powell.

Powell was among more than 170 business leaders who gave their support to the manifesto, unveiled in Westminster this morning by Business for New Europe (BNE).

Entitled “A Europe That Works“, the manifesto establishes five main points in its reform agenda, including creating free trade agreements with the US and Japan, strengthening the position of the city, and lessening the regulatory burden on SMEs.

Powell, who leads PwC’s regional cluster in Europe, is a noted supporter of BNE, and has previously contributed to a report from the group examining the relationship between Europe and the US.

Other signatories to the manifesto include CBI chairman and former chairman of KPMG International Sir Mike Rake, HSBC CEO Stuart Gulliver, and Financial Times group chairman John Ridding. It has also attracted cross-party support, including that of business secretary Vince Cable, and Emma Reynolds, shadow minister for Europe.

Cable said: “Being part of the single market gives UK business access to the world’s largest trading bloc, worth £11tn… Through successful trade negotiations we are opening up new markets for British companies to grow, as well as improving existing ones.” He added: “Let’s be clear. Leaving the EU is neither a good nor a realistic economic option for this country.”

However, Matthew Elliott, chief executive of eurosceptic business group Business for Britain, was dismissive of the manifesto, saying: “The prescriptions offered by the manifesto are, at best, piecemeal when EU regulation is choking off growth and job creation in the country”.

The news comes as MPs prepare to vote on a private members bill by Conservative MP James Wharton, which could potentially pave the way for a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU.

In March, Accountancy Age held a debate between BNE director Philip Souta, and UKIP economic spokesman Timothy Congdon on the subject of UK membership of the EU and the implications for the economy.

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