Opinion Former Article

FSB: Small businesses vote for referendum on EU Treaty

Members of The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) have overwhelmingly (90%) voted 'yes' on whether there should be a referendum on the new EU Reform Treaty in a snap poll held on the organisation's website.

As Slovenia takes over the six-month rotating Presidency of the EU for the start of 2008, the FSB has raised questions about the possibility of the new EU Treaty affecting UK industrial relations.

The UK has secured a written guarantee that the Charter cannot be used by the European Court of Justice to alter UK employment laws. But there are legal experts who say that this written guarantee may not be effective and that small businesses could face further complexity in employment laws.

John Walker, FSB Policy Chairman, said:

"The new EU Reform Treaty makes the Charter of Fundamental Rights legally binding.

"We are deeply concerned that, despite the written guarantee that the Charter will not apply to employment law in this country, the UK's position is open to legal challenge and that small businesses could suffer as a result.

"This poll clearly shows that small businesses are worried about the new EU Reform Treaty and believe they should have a say on whether it is implemented. The Government should stick to its promise of holding a referendum on the proposals. The packaging may have changed but the provisions are almost identical."

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

1. The UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the Foreign Secretary David Miliband signed the new EU Reform Treaty on Thursday December 13 2007.

2. The FSB's poll, conducted on the organisation's website in December 2007, asked members the following question: 'Do you believe that the UK Government should hold a referendum to find out the views of the UK electorate on the EU's Reform Treaty?' The result was: 2492 said yes; 280 said no.

3. The FSB is Britain's biggest business organisation with over 210,000 members. It exists to protect and promote the interests of the self-employed, and all those who run their own business. More information is available at www.fsb.org.uk.

Contacts:

For interviews with FSB Chief Spokesman Stephen Alambritis or other senior FSB personnel please contact the FSB Press Office.

FSB Press Office

Simon Briault: 020 7592 8128 / 07917 628998

Belinda Webb: 020 7592 8121 / 07825 125 695

For regional FSB contacts please go to www.fsb.org.uk/regions

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