Opinion Former Article

FSB urges MPs to consider business view in EU Treaty

The Federation of Small Business (FSB) is renewing calls for a referendum to take place on the EU Reform Treaty. This call coincides with the Second Reading of the European Union (Amendment) Bill. Serious questions have been raised about 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. However, there are legal experts who say that this written guarantee may not be effective. This would mean that small businesses could face further complexity in employment laws, adding to an already increasing burden of red tape.

Members of the FSB overwhelmingly (90%) voted 'yes' when asked whether there should be a referendum on the new EU Reform Treaty.

John Walker, FSB Policy Chairman, said:

"Today MPs must listen to the views of small businesses when debating this Bill. We are reminding politicians that it is small businesses, after all, that may have to deal with increasing complexities in employment law.

The new EU Reform Treaty makes the Charter of Fundamental Rights legally binding. We are, however, 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.

"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. We cannot afford to downplay the implications in any way."

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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