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Present

  • Rt Hon. Mark Drakeford AM
  • Jeremy Miles AM (Chair)
  • Lesley Griffiths AM
  • Kirsty Williams AM
  • Julie James AM
  • Dafydd Elis-Thomas AM
  • Des Clifford, Director General, OFM
  • Piers Bisson, Director, European Transition
  • Simon Brindle, Director, Brexit Strategy
  • Tim Render, Director, Land, Nature and Food
  • Carys Evans, Principal Private Secretary, First Minister
  • Gareth Williams, Special Adviser
  • Jane Runeckles, Special Adviser
  • Dan Butler, Special Adviser
  • Damian Roche, Cabinet Secretariat (minutes)
  • Toby Mason, Director of Communications
  • Liz Lalley, Deputy Director, European Transition (Preparedness)
  • Emma Edworthy, Deputy Director Trade Policy
  • Rob Parry, Deputy Director, European Transition (Legislation)
  • Michelle Grey, Head of Negotiation Policy and Co-ordination
  • Robbie Thomas, Head of Brexit Readiness, Transport
  • Emma Watkins, Deputy Director, Economic Policy
  • Leon Griffiths, Head of Communications, European Transition
  • Lauren Stamp, Senior Private Secretary, CGMET

Apologies

  • Ken Skates AM
  • Vaughan Gething AM
  • Eluned Morgan AM

Item 1: Minutes of the previous meeting

  1. The minutes of the 12 February meeting were agreed.

Item 2: Update on developments

  1. The Counsel General and Minister for European Transition provided an update on developments since the last meeting. A recent meeting with the other devolved administrations was positive and reached consensus around the need for the DAs to work together to influence the UK negotiating position.
  2. The Sub-Committee noted the update.

Item 3: Negotiating priorities: CSC-EU(19-20)28

  1. The Counsel General and Minister for European Transition introduced this joint paper, which provided:
    • an update on the development of negotiations
    • sought agreement on negotiating priorities and the Welsh Government approach to negotiations
    • outlined the future direction of Sub-Committee discussions.
  2. It was reported that the European Union’s draft negotiating mandate had been published and the first negotiations had taken place.
  3. The First Minister had made it clear that the negotiating positions for the EU negotiations set out by the UK government were theirs alone, as they had chosen not to engage properly nor seek agreement with devolved administrations.
  4. It would be important for official level engagement to continue in order to seek to influence the negotiating positions at a technical level, but ministerial engagement hinged on the UK government setting out a meaningful process for the structured, collective involvement of devolved administration ministers.
  5. The Sub-Committee discussed and agreed the Welsh Government’s priorities for the negotiations set out in the paper and annexes.

Item 4: Update on EU transition preparedness: CSC-EU(19-20)29

  1. The Counsel General and Minister for European Transition introduced the paper, which provided an update on the current situation with preparedness and the importance of continuing the extensive work needed to prepare for the end of the transition period.
  2. There was a significant risk that the UK would exit the EU at the end of the transition period without securing a trade deal with the EU. This would mean exit on WTO terms and the potential impact of this would have significant similarities to an exit under the pre-Brexit ‘no-deal’ scenario.
  3. In addition, as the UK government’s stated negotiating priorities would result in the introduction of considerable friction into the trading relationship, extensive preparedness work would be needed even if an agreement could be reached by year-end.
  4. The main challenge faced in preparing for these scenarios was the lack of information sharing by the UK government. Key decision-making material was not being shared in a timely way, or even at all, creating unnecessary barriers to Welsh Government preparations.
  5. Further difficulties could arise as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, both in terms of operational capacity and the UK Government’s ability to progress negotiations. It was suggested that the UK government’s insistence on maintaining a hard deadline for exit was the wrong course of action, as retaining the flexibility to respond to other issues such as COVID-19, in parallel to the negotiations, was paramount.
  6. The Cabinet Sub-Committee noted the paper.

Item 5: AOB

  • The next meeting was scheduled for 25 March and would focus on post-EU membership policy across departments.


Cabinet Secretariat
March 2020

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