The West Midlands suffers from relatively high unemployment rates, yet the Chambers’ Quarterly Economic Survey shows firms are struggling to recruit for skilled vacancies. There is a miss-match between the skills needed by businesses and those represented in the local workforce. Businesses highly value access to the EU Single Market and free trade agreements with non-EU nations. If the EU was to complete all its current free trade talks tomorrow, it could add 2.2% to the EU's GDP or €275 billion. Creating better connectivity to Europe is essential for West Midlands businesses to build stronger business links. This can be achieved through the expansion of Birmingham Airport as a regional hub airport, as well as the construction of an HS1-HS2 connection so that high-speed trains can go direct from the West Midlands to mainline Europe. Better transport links will enable a stronger export led recovery with the EU as the biggest market.
Exports from West Midlands firms have grown significantly in the past decade, with the total value of exports doubling from around £13.6bn in 2009 to over £27bn in 2013. The EU serves as an incubator market for companies looking export to non-EU states. The common market makes it easier for firms to get to grips with the export process.
Advise West Midlands MEPs on economic development and international trade issues affecting businesses.
Continue to deliver key export assistance through our world class UKTI service, trade missions, documentation services and tailored advice and training.
Continue to conduct research into members’ views on the local economy.
Seek to address the regional skills deficit by linking businesses to educational institutions.
Support West Midlands MEPs engaging with businesses about Erasmus+.
Work with local businesses and the community to raise awareness of the skills and employability opportunities and funding streams available through Erasmus+.
Continue to raise awareness of existing freetrade arrangements and on-going free trade talks amongst the business community and champion their importance in European Parliament.
Support infrastructure projects, such as the expansion of Birmingham Airport or the construction of an HS1-HS2 link, which enhance trade with the EU and enable West Midlands firms to increase exports.
Continue to campaign for Better Regulation and work closely with regional stakeholders, including MEPs, to identify unnecessary regulatory burdens affecting businesses.
Far too often EU regulations are proposed without due consideration for the impact they will have on businesses, particularly SMEs. Many are well intentioned but have undue negative consequences for businesses, for instance the Data Protection Directive.
Support West Midlands MEPs in communicating information on proposed and existing EU regulations to businesses.
Support West Midlands MEPs looking to consult with the business community.
Even well-conceived EU regulations can become burdensome when transposed into UK law. “Gold-plating” remains an issue. The Agency Workers Directive for instance gives temporary staff equal treatment to permanent staff (statutory pay and holidays). However, when transposing the regulation, the UK Government added clauses for performance-related bonuses, and inflated the original word count from 10 to almost 1,000 words.
Aid West Midlands MEPs by conducting research into members’ views on barriers to business growth.
Take a ‘one in – two out’ approach to regulations to minimise burdens for businesses.
Avoid taking a ‘one size fits all approach’ and be aware of the different impacts of new regulations on different businesses and member states.
Work with businesses to understand the potential impact of proposed EU regulations and to apply the “SME Test” when examining proposed EU legislation or EC Directives.
Track the progress of important pieces of regulation through Whitehall and UK Parliament and challenge unnecessary “gold-plating”.
Work with businesses to identify, raise awareness of and challenge any issues relating to EU regulations caused by regulators and inspectors.
Once transposed, EU regulations are largely enforced by local and national bodies. Sometimes these agencies, and their inspectors, can be too heavy handed with businesses or create confusing or extensive compliance procedures. This can lead to businesses “hyper-complying”, a drain on both staff time and the flexibility of the business. Problems with regulation occur at three levels: conception, transposition and enforcement. We are calling on West Midlands MEPs to make a stand against unnecessary red tape. To champion the needs of businesses within the EU and to provide a bridge between decision makers in Brussels, UK policy makers and implementers to help ensure that legislation is being transposed and implemented as intended.
Between 2007 and 2013, the West Midlands received €399 million from the European Regional Development Fund. The recently launched €70 billion European Horizon 2020 fund aims to support research & development and help SMEs looking to grow internationally over a seven year period. However many businesses are unaware of the opportunities on offer. The West Midlands needs to work as a region to maximise European funding and ensure it is administered effectively. Businesses need support to build the necessary capacity to bid for EU funded contracts and grants either alone or as part of a consortium. Research by BIS (2010) has shown that businesses who receive business support are nearly twice as likely to grow as those who do not. Creating a stronger signposting network with the West Midlands Chambers would enable better communication so that businesses are aware of the funding and support opportunities provided by the EU. The West Midlands Chambers have a wealth of experience to draw on in delivering European funding for business support having delivered many funding programmes for 2007-2013. This includes the Coventry and Warwickshire “Enterprise and Business Growth Package”, the Staffordshire “Mentoring for Growth” programme, the GBS LEP “Green Bridge” programme, the “West Midlands SME Internationalisation Project”, and the “Worcestershire Resource and Efficiency Programme”.
Continue to deliver EU and ERDF funded programmes to help businesses in the West Midlands including the Enterprise Europe Network, Europe Direct, and Green Bridge.
Alert businesses across the West Midlands to opportunities created through EU funding.
Campaign for cross-boundary cooperation to ensure that the region maximises its funding allocations.
Gather feedback from businesses on the process of applying for funds.
Work with the business community to communicate the procurement and funding opportunities available to West Midlands businesses.
Work with Local Authorities, LEPs, and Chambers across the region to collectively promote opportunities open to particular industries, sectors and projects.
Provide advice on how the region can better maximise and utilise European funding
Signpost to existing EU-funded initiatives such as Enterprise Europe Network and Europe Direct.
Brief West Midlands MEPs on the regional economy and identify members’ views on key EU policies.
Work with West Midlands MEPs to communicate opportunities to the business community.
Continue to deliver Europe Direct and Enterprise Europe Network services.
Continue to deliver a world class UKTI service and run annual delegations to the European Union.
Continue to monitor businesses’ views on EU membership.
Chamber research shows businesses want to remain in the EU with certain powers transferred back from Brussels to West Minster. Whilst businesses value membership of the EU, there are concerns that it does not always represent value for money and occasionally intervenes legislatively in areas it should not.
Continue to bring businesses face to face with EU policy makers, increasing dialogue and mutual understanding.
Bridge the gap between businesses and the EU, working with Chambers to communicate opportunities to access funding and for doing business both within and with the EU.
The European Union remains the single largest export market for West Midlands businesses, with exports to the EU valued at over £11 billion for 2013, compared to £8.7 billion in 2010. The EU presents a wealth of opportunities for export and internationally minded businesses, but many businesses are unable to have a physical presence abroad.
Work with Chambers to provide early warning on proposed EU legislation that could affect West Midlands businesses and explain the implications.
Consult with businesses to ensure they accurately represent their views on EU policies.
Actively seek to halt unnecessary EU interventions and work to challenge any wasteful expenditure, maximising value for money.
Become ambassadors for regional industry in Europe and present a united voice on promoting the region. To be aware of regional strengths and champion our businesses at every opportunity.
Chamber members can feel alienated from the European Union and the decisions and opportunities on offer there. There can be a perceived disconnect between what happens in Brussels and the needs and experiences of businesses on the ground in the West Midlands.
With a UK referendum on EU membership still in the pipeline and growing popularity of Euroscepticism, now more than ever West Midlands MEPs need to take an active role in demonstrating the value of EU membership to their constituents. They must forge a new relationship with the business community based on communication, representation and maximising access to opportunities.
membership organisations, accredited by the British Chambers of Commerce.
The network of accredited chambers of
commerce exists to make a difference to your business, whether that means ensuring your views are heard within government, opening new business opportunities in local, national and international markets or providing critical business advice, services and skills development.
The Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce exist to connect your business to opportunity. If you are based in Birmingham, Solihull, Lichfield, Tamworth or Burton get in touch to find out what we can do to benefit your business.
Contact Us: Tel.: 0121 454 6171 Email: Info@Birmingham-Chamber.com Website: www.Birmingham-Chamber.com
Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce is the ultimate business network. If your businesses is based in the Coventry and Warwickshire area contact us to find out how we can support your business.
Contact: Tel.: 0247 665 4321 Email: info@CW-Chamber.co.uk Website: www.CW-Chamber.co.uk
Black Country Chamber of Commerce aims to double the size of the Black Country economy over the next ten years and wants all businesses in Wolverhampton, Walsall, Sandwell and Dudley to get connected and grow. If your business is based in the area contact us today.
Contact: Tel.: 0845 002 1234 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.blackcountrychamber.co.uk
The Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce can support, connect and help your business succeed. If your business is based in North Staffordshire or Stoke get in touch today to find out how we can help you grow your business.
Contact: Tel.: 01782 202 222 Email: email@example.com Website: www.staffordshirechambers.co.uk
Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce Chamber of the Year for 2013, prides itself on fostering a culture of good business. If you are based in Herefordshire or Worcestershire contact us today for information on how we can help your business.
Contact: Tel.: 0845 641 1641 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.hwchamber.co.uk
Policy and Patron Advisor
Head of Policy
Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce
Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce
Black Country Chambers of Commerce
Tel.: 0121 607 1786
Tel.: 0247 665 4371
Head of PR and Policy
Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce
Herefordshire and Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce
Tel.: 0178 220 2222
Tel.: 0845 641 1564
Tel.: 0845 8724 296