Camerons remarks in support of the importance of Europes single market will be welcomed by multi-national corporations - such as Ford - with major operations in the UK

Cameron's remarks in support of the importance of Europe's single market will be welcomed by multi-national corporations - such as Ford - with major operations in the UK

Britain's prime minister, David Cameron, has told just-auto that he believes Britain is better off inside a reformed European Union (EU).

His comments come amid heightened political debate in the UK over continued EU membership ahead of a General Election scheduled for 2015. Cameron has previously said that he would like the UK to renegotiate its EU membership as part of a reform of the EU and then put that to a referendum after the next election.

Opinion polls in Britain suggest that concerns over the level of immigration to the UK from other parts of the EU (most notably east European 'new member' countries) under EU free-movement-of-labour rules have risen in recent years, making the EU unpopular with British voters. However, industrialists have voiced concern over the prospect of a UK exit resulting in disruption to UK trading relations with other European nations. There are also fears that the associated uncertainties over the UK's trading relations with the rest of Europe could hit future investment plans.

Speaking in Dagenham, east London, where Ford this week announced a further expansion of investment in engine manufacturing, Cameron stressed his support for a genuine single market in Europe.

"I think Britain is better off inside a reformed European Union," he said. "At the heart of our arguments for being inside the European Union is access to the single market. And it's not just access to the single market we want, it's a say over the rules of the single market."

Cameron also noted that the UK will have influence in the new Commission with a UK representative appointed to a senior role. Last month, European Commission President-elect Jean-Claude Juncker appointed Jonathan Hill to the EC finance portfolio.

"I am very pleased that we have successfully got a very strong British Commissioner, Jonathan Hill, to be part of that new European Commission," Cameron said. "So I recognise the importance of that."

The prime minister also acknowledged the important role that the auto sector is playing in the revitalisation of the UK economy and manufacturing.

"The car industry in this country is having a really quite significant renaissance.

"You can see it here at Ford, making engines; there's also the whole story at Jaguar Land Rover, and I go to plants - whether it's Honda at Swindon, Toyota in Derbyshire, Nissan in Sunderland, Vauxhall investing here too - there's a very positive story and we want to keep that going and the European single market is a very important part of that."

In recent times Ford executives have spoken out in favour of less regulated and easier trading conditions between nations - for example in support of a proposed EU-US free trade agreement and a reformed EU single market.

"The European single market has been fundamental to the strength of the European economy over many decades, helping to generate wealth and jobs to levels that would have been inconceivable without it," said Stephen Odell, Ford's Senior VP and president of Europe, Middle East and Africa, speaking in the summer.

"A strong and globally-competitive European auto industry is a critical driver of the single market, creating wealth, driving innovation and sustaining jobs... jobs, competitiveness, and growth must be the driving force behind EU policy."

Ford's UK engine operations highlight the international nature of the company's European operations. In 2013, Ford produced 1.5m engines in the UK and 85% were exported.

See also: UK: Ford announces new engine investment for Dagenham

Auto market intelligence
from just-auto

• Auto component fitment forecasts
• OEM & tier 1 profiles & factory finder
• Analysis of 30+ auto technologies & more