LONDON, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) -- Nearly 80 percent of businesses in Britain said the country must stay in the European Union (EU), saying leaving the Euroepan bloc would hit investment and trade, and make them less competitive, said a survey report issued on Thursday.
The survey, jointly conducted by the British leading business lobbying organization, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and the online market research company YouGov, found that 78 percent of firms favor staying in the EU, including 77 percent of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Just 10 percent thought it was in their interests for the UK to leave the EU.
"Despite frustrations over the current relationship, and the burden of some regulations, particularly employment law, the survey shows most businesses feel the positives more than outweigh the negatives," said the survey.
But firms do want to see the relationship reformed. Businesses are calling for a reduction in unnecessary regulations, rules to be implemented evenly across all member states and an end to the "gold-plating" of EU legislation.
According to the survey involving more than 400 businesses employing more than 1.5 million direct employees, 71 percent said Britain's membership has had a positive or very positive impact on their businesses, with 16 percent stating it had no impact and 13 percent that the impact was negative.
Some 75 percent thought leaving the EU would have a negative impact on the overall level of foreign direct investment in Britain, while 86 percent believe that leaving the EU would have a negative impact on British firms' access to EU markets.
The survey showed a majority of companies see the EU as having a positive impact on their businesses, in terms of their ability to buy and sell products inside and outside EU markets without prohibitive taxes or tariffs, and to recruit staff from across the EU.
However, firms are concerned by the potential impact an EU exit would have on their businesses and the UK as a whole.
The firms surveyed also identified benefits to leaving the EU such as a reduced regulatory burden.
This sends a clear message that most CBI members, big and small, support UK membership of the EU, said CBI Director-General John Cridland.
"Firms want what is best for jobs and growth, and there is genuine concern that an exit would hit business investment and access to the world's largest trading bloc."
"The UK should take the lead on the push for reform and make sure rules are evenly applied across the EU. Businesses are also concerned about the UK gold-plating legislation from Brussels."
"Businesses do have some serious concerns about the EU, but ultimately they want the UK inside the tent winning the argument for reform," said Cridland.