Three former UK ambassadors are publishing a report outlining the negative impact that leaving the EU would have on its economy. The report focuses on the disadvantages of losing access to the free trade deals the UK currently enjoys as a member of the union, while emphasising the greater leverage the UK gains as part of a larger bloc.
Nigel Sheinwald, the UK's former permanent representative to the EU in Brussels and a co-author of the report said, "Outside the EU we would be worse off. I don’t think any of us are saying we would never get a deal with these countries. I just think we would be at the back of the queue and it would take a long time."
The study, written by Sheinwald with Lord Kerr of Kinlochard and Lord Hannay of Chiswick continues, "The UK’s membership of the EU has enabled it to leverage the greater weight of the EU in international trade negotiations to open up world trade, creating jobs and growth at home and bringing much-needed foreign investment into the UK."
The findings of the report echo comments already made by US Trade Representative, Michael Froman, who has warned that, "it's absolutely clear Britain has a greater voice at the trade table as part of the EU and as part of a larger economic entity."
The report has been welcomed by some MEPs.
Sajjad Karim, a member of Parliament's ECR group, said "Anyone actually involved in trying to get trade deals in place knows from experience the terms and timings depend on your negotiating strengths. Being in the EU multiplies our individual strengths as a collective whole."
He added, "of all those who speak repeatedly in simplistic terms of how easy it is to get a free trade deal in place, I see that they share one thing in common; a distinct lack of experience of the issue they seek to educate others about."
Liberal MEP, Catherine Bearder, a member of Parliament's ALDE group also supported the findings, saying, "It is clear that we are stronger negotiating as part of a bloc of 500 million people than going it alone. Harnessing the power of the EU to open up global trade is the best way to build an even stronger and more prosperous Britain."
David Martin, a member of the European Parliament's trade committee, reinforced these sentiments, saying, "The UK is unequivocally stronger as part of the EU. The report's findings echo what we hear from British business that the EU negotiates comprehensive and highly beneficial trade deals. Given its global weight as the world's largest market, that is hardly surprising but worth emphasising."
The report provides specific examples of how membership of the EU has boosted trade.
It finds that: UK exports have increased by 104 percent, worth €5.16bn, since the EU-South Korea trade deal was signed; UK exports to Canada have increased by 29 per cent, - €3.21bn per annum - since the EU-Canada free trade agreement was signed two years ago. In addition, as EU countries export only 6 per cent of their goods to the UK, Britain would also be in a far weaker position to negotiate a deal as a non-member.
With the referendum likely to be held next year, David Cameron is set to outline his renegotiation demands to the EU on Monday.
The outcome of the renegotiations is likely to impact on whether the UK votes to stay in the bloc.