The Confederation of British Industry says its members support remaining members of the European Union, as long as there is reform.
The UK’s leading business association says the majority of its members want to stay within the EU, but want to see more trade deals and less “lifestyle” regulations.
In his New Year message, CBI director general John Cridland says: “The needs of the modern world increasingly don’t recognise either the Berlin Walls or the Hadrian’s Walls of the past.
“Political isolationism would leave us poorer. The majority of CBI member companies of all sizes want to remain in a reformed EU.
“But the EU has to reform and needs to be more competitive, outward looking and open.”
However, he adds there should less EU intervention in certain areas.
He says: “And we also need less EU – no more lifestyle regulation on matters like employment, such as the working time directive, which should be left to member states, and no more damaging regulations on UK financial services that are vital to fuelling growth across Europe.”
Cridland also says whichever government emerges from the general election must focus on more “radical solutions” to tackle the Budget deficit.
He says: “Post-Autumn Statement, the same approach to public service reform is no longer an option. Much of the low-hanging fruit is long since gone and only radical solutions will deliver.
“Let’s see the integration of health and social care, and a significant increase in services available online.”
In addition, the CBI calls for fundamental reform of the education system, including abolishing GCSEs, to boost skills and productivity.