EU '˜in' vote vital to small businesses

Small businesses have a big stake in the outcome of the June 23 referendum on EU membership.

Small employers are a bedrock of local life and the South East’s economy. Almost a million small and medium enterprises create more than 40 per cent of the region’s economic output, and employ one in two of its workforce.

These small firms thrive on the market access EU membership provides. Exporting to the EU is worth almost £20bn a year to businesses in the South East. Some 44 per cent of total UK exports are to the EU, and this rises to 51 per cent for small firms. Small businesses also benefit from EU grants and investments. By 2014, 1,211 small and medium enterprises in the South East had been helped to become more environmentally friendly thanks to EU programmes. In fact, green funding from Europe helped reduce overall CO2 emissions in the region by more than 40,000 tonnes while, at the same time, creating jobs.

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All our lives are enriched and our businesses prosper thanks to the free movement that allows our European neighbours to live and work in our region.

As a Member of the European Parliament, I am well aware the European Union is far from perfect.

However, the EU is a space for new ideas to develop. Working collaboratively with our friends in Europe allows for the longer-term thinking that is vital to deal with the cross-border changes we face.

The EU has already boosted our environment and our small businesses in the South East. By voting Remain, we can all build a fairer, safer, greener Europe.

Keith Taylor

Green Party MEP

for the South East

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