BUSINESSES in York believe leaving the European Union would have a negative impact on enterprise in the region.

The Executive Decision, a monthly debate feature in Business Press, asked readers last month: "Would businesses in North Yorkshire suffer if the UK left the EU?"

Setting political allegiances aside, we wanted to know how businesses felt about EU membership, and what it would mean to trade if the UK walked away from Brussels.

The online poll on The Press's website was the closest result The Executive Decision has recorded to date, with 59 per cent voting yes, businesses would suffer, and 41 per cent voting no.

Speaking in favour of remaining part of the EU is Richard Shaw, managing director of cable cleat manufacturer Ellis.

The Rillington-based firm generates around half of its annual £7 million turnover from exports.

Mr Shaw said: "Putting politics aside there are two very simple reason to be pro Europe.

"The first is the lack of barriers between countries. If you go back prior to the EU, if you wanted to ship goods to another country in Europe you had to go through border controls, there was no free transfer of goods.

"Now you can send something to France or Germany as easily as you can to Birmingham.

"The second thing is standards. The EU does a lot around standards in relation to products. We ourselves are governed by a cable cleat standard.

"We don't just have a national standard, we have a European standard and quite often that becomes an international standard and is adopted globally.

"Countries that have their own specific standards can almost be a barrier to trade. Working to the same standards opens up the doors."

The Executive Decision results mirrors a new Institute of Export International Trade survey which shows that a growing number of exporting companies believe that continuing membership of the EU is ‘critical’ to their business The research shows that 49.5 per cent of exporters say Britain’s continuing membership of the EU is critical to their company, an increase from 45 per cent in 2013.

A total of 38.5 per cent of businesses said they did not know if Britain’s continued membership of the EU was critical to their business and 14.7 per cent did not know.

The report says: “The perceived importance of continued membership of the EU to a respondent’s company increases steadily with the turnover of the organisation.

“In the smallest segment, up to £1 million turnover, only 41 per cent of respondents see a link between membership of the EU and the critical success of their business “For all companies turning over more than £10 million a year, the proportion believing that EU membership is important is consistent at approximately 58 per cent. “ Latest figures show that Yorkshire and Humber’s value of exports to EU in the first three months of this year were £2.1 billion.

The newly-honoured director general of the Institute of Export is special guest at the next We Are International Export Networking this month.

Lesley Batchelor will be speaking and welcoming guests at the event at The Carriageworks Theatre, in Leeds on July 4.

The event is the fifth supporting Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP)’s We Are International campaign, which covers the York area, and aims to add £1.6 billion to the City Region economy and create thousands of jobs by 2018.