Most companies based in the eurozone believe a British decision to leave the European Union would hurt the region as it struggles with a sluggish economy and a migration crisis, a survey showed yesterday.

Seventy-nine per cent of firms based in the eurozone said a Brexit would be bad for the area, with less than four per cent saying it would have a positive impact, according to the report from accountants Grant Thornton.

“What’s abundantly clear from our research is that European business leaders overwhelmingly view a Brexit as a negative development for the EU,” Francesca Lagerberg, a senior tax partner at Grant Thornton, said.

She said business confidence was strong considering the various potential threats the region faced from low growth, high unemployment, migration and a potential Brexit.

“Any one of these flaring up over the next few months could see that optimism wobble if the economic shocks undermine business leaders’ ability to plan and invest,” she added.

Most economists expect an exit would deal a blow

The survey was based on interviews with more than 2,500 senior executives conducted in January and February.

The result is in keeping with the view of senior business leaders in Britain who are largely in favour of Britain staying in the EU. Most economists expect an exit would deal a blow to Britain’s economy in both the short and longer term.

Microsoft on Tuesday said it was more likely to invest in Britain if it stayed in the EU, and the Confederation of British Industry urged firms to speak to their staff about the vote.

The Grant Thornton report showed 68 per cent of British-based firms believe Brexit would have a negative impact on Europe.

Parts of the eurozone have struggled with a debt crisis in recent years which, on the heels of the global financial crisis, has stifled growth and left many unemployed.

The region is also at odds over how to contain a big flow of migrants to the region.

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