22 Mag Self governance
A survey by the Institute of Directors has cast an interesting light on British business attitudes to European Union Membership. The main message to Government from the survey is that 60% of IoD members would only support continued membership of the EU if reform was seen in certain key areas. These include tax setting powers, employment law and corporate law/governance; all of which received overwhelming support for powers to be returned to, or retained within, the UK.
When it comes to employment law the working time directive came in for particular criticism with nearly 67% of responders citing the directive as causing problems within their organisation. Next on the list came parental leave at 56% with directives relating to temporary agency workers following at 39%.
Whilst the comments in respect of employment issues could be down to the volumes of paperwork and work schedule juggling which seem to follow any employment issue, the sentiment in respect of corporate law/governance is of particular interest. When asked about competition issues the respondents were fairly evenly split between UK control (43%), EU control (39%) and world trade organisation/global control (16%). However, when asked about company law and governance just 16% of the respondents plumped for EU control with 10% looking at the global picture and 70% calling for powers to be retained within the UK.
Unfortunately company law and governance were included within a single question so it is difficult to extrapolate whether the mix would have been different had a separate governance question been asked. But we would hope that had separate questions been asked, corporate governance would have received a higher global weighting. Elements of governance such as transparency, openness, diversity, fair trade and operating within ethical guidelines are increasingly been seen as global issues Partly this has been driven by the fallout from the global banking crisis but good governance practices are also been seen as important differentiators in an increasingly global marketplace.
Commenting on the survey the Director General of the IoD, Simon Walker, said “With the European Parliament now co-deciding on up to 70 per cent of EU laws, British business is looking for the next wave of MEPs to focus on building a union based on innovation and competitiveness, as these are the forces that will bring prosperity and jobs to the people of Europe.”