The UK’s EEF group, which represents around 200,000 engineering and technology firms including Rolls Royce and BaE Systems, has called on Prime Minister David Cameron to bring forward his proposed referendum on EU membership to 2017.
Prime Minister Cameron, who won a second term in office after his Conservatives won the May 7 election with a shock majority in the Westminster parliament, is currently working to hold the referendum in late 2017, but has not ruled out holding it earlier.
The EEF group, however, has proposed the earlier date of May 2016 ahead of Cameron’s announcement of the government’s legislative plans scheduled for Wednesday.
"Having trailed this since early 2013 the government must surely have a clear idea of its proposed areas for negotiation and it must now be a priority to get on with it,” EEF's chief executive Terry Scuoler told Reuters.
Scuoler added that 85 percent of British firms want the country to remain in the EU and believe it will not make sense to disengage from the European export market while sticking to its regulations in order to maintain access to it.
Last week, it was reported that the Bank of England was planning to assess the economic implications if Britain opts to leave the EU.
Bank of England governor Mark Carney also urged the new government to hurry up with the referendum because “uncertainty is affecting business confidence.”
"The government has made it clear that [the referendum] is a priority. I am sure the government will act with appropriate speed in developing the negotiations ... as soon as necessary," Carney said on Radio 4 earlier this month.
“It’s in the interests of everybody that there is clarity about the process and the question and the decision," he added.
The latest surveys in the UK indicate a majority of voters are in favour of staying in the EU, with a recent survey by YouGov showing 45 percent of UK citizens would vote in favour of staying as part of the EU and 36 percent would vote to leave it.
However, the results of such surveys vary widely. Surveys conducted earlier in the year by Opinium showed a majority of UK citizens want to leave the EU.