Parliament
ParliamentReuters

The majority of British firms still believe that closing ties with the European Union would harm the country's business interests, according to a survey conducted by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).

The survey of more than 3,200 businesses across the UK also found that a growing number of firms support a re-negotiated relationship with the EU.

In the survey, 60% of the respondents believe that remaining in the EU while transferring specific powers back to Westminster would be positive for the UK economy. That represents an increase of 6% since the first quarter of 2014.

Nevertheless, almost half of the firms surveyed noted that further integration with the EU would have a negative impact on UK business.

"These results show that firms believe a renegotiated relationship with the EU, rather than further integration or outright withdrawal, is most likely to deliver economic benefit for the UK," BCC director general John Longworth said in a statement.

"They do not want to get caught up in the whirlpool of further integration - only 20% of those firms we surveyed felt that this would be beneficial. Yet the same companies say they do not want to rush for the exit."

The latest EU Business Barometer survey coincides with the recent key appointments to top EU positions at the European Council meeting.

"Unless the European Union is perceived to function in the interests of all of its member states, it will continue to lose legitimacy not just among the voting public but among businesspeople as well," Longworth added.

"The prospects for UK business and trade would be improved substantially if meaningful EU reform were to take place."

He noted that the country's top priority must be to secure safeguards against decisions the 28-nation bloc is yet to take.

"This will prevent Britain from the tangle of an "ever-closer union" that the Eurozone will inevitably now pursue."