The United Kingdom is currently in the midst of an ongoing debate over whether or not to remain part of the European Union, culminating in a national referendum on June 23. Individuals and special interest groups have been campaigning extensively on both sides of the debate, and various companies with domestic, Europe-wide and global operations have also presented their respective viewpoints - and the latest to do so is Microsoft.
Michel Van der Bel, CEO of Microsoft UK, said today that the company hopes the outcome of the referendum will see the UK remain part of the EU:
First and foremost, we want to emphasise that we firmly believe this is a decision for individual voters to make, based on the issues that are most important to them. We appreciate and respect that there are a range of reasons that motivate people on both sides of the debate, but as a business that is very committed to this country, our view is that the UK should remain in the EU.
While also noting that Microsoft has a long and storied history in the UK - it became the company's first international outpost when it opened an office there 34 years ago - Van der Bel also pointed out why the country has remained attractive to Microsoft over the years:
Historically, the UK being part of the EU has been one of several important criteria that make it one of the most attractive places in Europe for the range of investments we have made. At key moments in our international growth we have specifically chosen to invest in our capabilities here in the UK. Most recently, we announced that we would start offering cloud services this year from new UK-based data centres. And as we’ve grown, so too have the UK technology businesses we work with.
The UK was also chosen as the location for Microsoft's first R&D lab outside of the United States - Microsoft Research Cambridge, which opened in 1997 - and Van der Bel said that the UK's membership in the EU played a key role in that decision.
However, he also emphasized Microsoft's continued commitment to the UK regardless of the outcome of the referendum.
Source: Microsoft UK