Ensuring that the concerns of Wales’ agriculture and environment sectors are fully taken into consideration.
With agriculture, environment, marine/fisheries being fully devolved matters, the Cabinet Secretary told the Minister that Brexit must not result in a loss of devolved responsibility. It will be for Welsh Ministers to determine how policies in those areas develop in future in the best interests of Wales.
The Cabinet Secretary sought assurances over future funding for agriculture in Wales, which currently benefits from more than £200m of EU funds every year, and reiterated the vital importance of continued access to the single market for Welsh rural businesses and food and drink producers.
Lesley Griffiths also stressed the importance of maintaining a level playing field to ensure the competitiveness of Wales’ food and drink industry and insisted current EU laws relating to food and drink safety must be replicated so the industry’s excellent reputation in this area is protected.
Following the meeting the Cabinet Secretary said:
“I was pleased to meet George Eustice at the Royal Welsh today. It was a good opportunity to discuss current issues facing the agriculture and environment sectors, with Brexit, of course, being the main topic of discussion.
“The First Minister has already made it clear to the Prime Minister that Wales must not lose out financially following Brexit. The Prime Minister assured him that the Welsh Government will be closely involved and engaged in the EU withdrawal negotiation process. Securing future trading relationships will be vital if our agriculture and environment sectors are to thrive in the longer-term. I reiterated this to the UK Farming Minister and I will be writing to him again on this in the near future.
“During what has been an extremely productive week, I have met many people from rural Wales including farmers, food and drink producers and representatives of environmental groups. I am determined their views and concerns are communicated and taken into consideration during negotiations over the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
On access to the European Single Market the Cabinet Secretary said:
“Wales is an outward looking nation. Our produce is world class and we have confidence we can develop new opportunities around the world. We can not ignore the fact though that last year, 90% of all the food and drink Wales exported went to the EU. That is why we are clear that it is absolutely vital the United Kingdom negotiates to retain access to the 500 million customers in the Single Market.