Exports to EU support 4m British jobs, study finds

Published on Monday, 31 March 2014 11:54
Written by Daniel Mason

More than four million jobs in the UK are directly or indirectly linked to the country's membership of the European Union, a new analysis has found.

The study, commissioned by the pro-Europe group British Influence and carried out by the Centre for Economics and Business Research thinktank, found that in 2011 there were 4.2 million jobs in the UK linked to exports to the EU - 3.1 million directly and 1.1 million indirectly.

In the same year, the total income associated with demand from EU exports was £211bn, or £3,500 per head of the population. The analysis is the first of its kind since a 2000 paper, based on 1997 figures, which showed that the EU supported nearly 3.5 million British jobs.

Between 1997 and 2011, the number of EU-associated jobs in professional, technical, scientific services, and in business and administration support services, have almost doubled, according to the report. Meanwhile the number of manufacturing jobs linked to the EU has fallen, in line with the general decline in UK manufacturing over the period.

The data shows that in 2011, London had 27% more EU-supported jobs than in 1997, while all other regions except for the West Midlands likewise saw an increase. The CEBR noted that the jobs figures were not an estimate of the number of jobs that would be lost if the UK left the EU.

The director of British Influence, Peter Wilding, said: "This new research points to the continued importance of our trading relationship with the EU. It represents an effective barometer reading of the jobs and wealth generated by that ongoing and vibrant trading relationship.

"It would be absurd to claim that all that would evaporate overnight if we were to withdraw from the EU. But it would surely be an act of madness to jeopardise economic reality based on facts in favour of little more than a pipedream of alternative trading relationships articulated by those who propose that we should walk away."

The executive chairman of the CEBR, Professor Douglas McWilliams, said: "This report demonstrates the levels of UK economic activity that are associated with demand from the European Union.

"CEBR estimates this at 4.2 million jobs, or £211bn in national income terms. Jobs are spread across UK regions, but East Midlands and West Midlands have the highest proportion of their workforces supported by demand from the EU.

"Across the economy, the manufacturing sector has most jobs linked to demand from exports to the EU, but it is notable that between 1997 and 2011, the numbers of EU-supported jobs in business services have almost doubled. As the debate over the UK's relationship with the EU continues, I think it is important that debate understands the sizeable chunk of the UK economy is supported by demand from EU member states."

Frances O'Grady, general secretary of the TUC, added: "One in seven British jobs already depend on trade with the rest of the EU, and these four million jobs tend to be more highly skilled and better paid than most.

"Jobs in the midlands and Yorkshire are even more reliant on exports to Europe than jobs in other parts of the UK. The recovery won't deliver for large parts of the country if the needs of the regions are ignored.

"Trade with Europe is vital to the British economy and to the living standards of people at work. Britain's membership of the EU needs to work for Britain, and for working people that means the right to good jobs, better training and higher pay."

The study comes with Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg and his Ukip counterpart Nigel Farage due to hold the second of two live radio and TV debates on the UK's membership of the EU on Wednesday.

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