Finance bosses say UK needs to stay in EU, reform needed

Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) - A vast majority of senior financial services executives want Britain to stay in the European Union but said reform is needed to cut the amount of regulation, according to a survey released on Wednesday.

CityUK, which champions Britain's financial industry, said an independent survey of 101 UK-based chief executives, chairmen and other senior officials at finance firms showed 84 percent wanted Britain to remain a member of the EU and 94 percent recognised the value of staying in the single market.

Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to renegotiate the terms of Britain's EU membership and hold an "in/out" referendum if re-elected in 2015, prompting fears it could drop out of the club it joined in 1973.

There is strong support in London, Europe's dominant financial centre, to stay in the EU and the head of the City of London last month said a UK exit could prompt an exodus of international banks and hurt the industry, which makes up about a tenth of Britain's gross domestic product.

CityUK said 65 percent of those in its survey said regulatory change was one of the most significant challenges to their business and more than half viewed the volume of EU regulation as one of their biggest hurdles.

It said eight out of ten said staying in the EU was the best option for the competitiveness of the UK as a financial centre.

"Our research has shown that the benefits of EU membership are numerous for our respondents, not least in the gains we make from trade, increased competition, and by providing access to the world's largest market," said James Nixon, CityUK's chief economist.

(Reporting by Steve Slater; editing by David Evans)

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