Present (via Teams)
- Jeremy Miles MS (Chair)
- Rt Hon. Mark Drakeford MS (from item 5)
- Vaughan Gething MS
- Julie James MS
- Kirsty Williams MS
- Lesley Griffiths MS
- Dafydd Elis-Thomas MS
- Ken Skates MS
- Jane Hutt MS
- Des Clifford, Director General, OFM (until item 5)
- Piers Bisson, Director, European Transition
- Tim Render, Director, Land, Nature and Food
- Carys Evans, Principal Private Secretary, First Minister
- Will Whiteley, Head of Cabinet Division
- Gareth Williams, Special Adviser
- Jane Runeckles, Special Adviser
- Dan Butler, Special Adviser
- Christopher W Morgan, Cabinet Secretariat
- Damian Roche, Cabinet Secretariat (minutes)
- Toby Mason, Director of Communications
- Liz Lalley, Deputy Director, COVID-19 Recovery
- Emma Edworthy, Deputy Director Trade Policy
- Ruth Bacigalupo, Head of Services, Trade Policy Team
- Rob Parry, Deputy Director, European Transition (Legislation)
- Michelle Grey, Head of Negotiation Policy and Co-ordination
- Euros Jones, European Transition
- Lowri Lloyd-Hughes, Senior Private Secretary, CGMET
- Paul Harrington, Head of Intergovernmental Relations, European Transition
- Shelley Hughes, Deputy Head of Frameworks Policy Team
- Enfys Dixey, Head of Economic Competitiveness Policy
- Ed Sherriff, Deputy Director, European Transition (Negotiations and Preparedness)
- Rhydian Ayres, Deputy Director of Brexit Borders Policy
- Steven McGregor, Brussels Office
- Kayleigh Sweet, European Transition Preparedness
- David S. Thomas, Agriculture Trade Policy
- Jack Savery, European Transition
- Eluned Morgan MS
- Rebecca Evans MS
- Hannah Blythyn MS
- Julie Morgan MS
- Lee Waters MS
Item 1: Minutes of the previous meeting and actions arising
1.1. The Cabinet Sub-Committee approved the minutes of 14 October and noted that the actions were in hand.
Item 2: Update on developments with supporting papers
Update on Frameworks – Delivery Dashboard
2.1 The Counsel General and Minister for European Transition introduced the item, which provided progress reports on the latest negotiation developments, with reference to supporting papers on Common Frameworks and Legislation.
2.2 The deadline to agree a deal before the end of transition had passed, but further intensified negotiations between the UK and the EU had continued.
2.3 It seemed clear that even if a deal was reached it would only provide limited protection against the significant economic impact of the change in relationship with the EU – and the benefit of a zero tariff, zero quota market access deal would be significantly weakened if potential Rules of Origin limitations and non-tariff barriers were not satisfactorily addressed.
2.4 It was inevitable that the talks would need to end soon as the time necessary for ratification of any agreement by the EU would not allow for much further slippage.
Update on the UK Internal Market
2.5 Engagement continued with the UK Government, the other Devolved Governments, and the House of Lords to amend the Internal Market Bill and a debate on the LCM was provisionally scheduled for 1 December.
Update on Frameworks – Delivery dashboard
2.6 The Frameworks Assessment Panels were progressing well, with most of the outline Frameworks requiring relatively little further development before being approved by Ministers.
2.7 MRPQ and Services were the Frameworks causing most concern, along with the Emissions Trading Scheme. There was little time for policy leads to put the Frameworks through the various clearance processes, including JMC (EN) endorsement, before they were sent to the legislatures at year-end.
Update on Legislation – Delivery dashboard Paper reference
2.8 The Sub-Committee discussed the legislative situation and noted that significant progress had been made, with 46 UK-EU Exit SIs having been provided with consent since 1 February. There were an estimated 8 SIs still requiring consent before the end of transition.
2.9 Of the remaining 21 Welsh EU Exit SIs, eleven remained to be laid before the end of transition and seven of those were due to be laid the following week.
2.10 It was reported that the First Minister had agreed a new Protocol with the Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee, restarting the fortnightly “early warning” letters on Welsh EU Exit SIs and expanding the scope of the Protocol to cover notification to the Senedd of UK SIs in devolved areas under the Withdrawal Agreement Act, as it amends the Withdrawal Act, and also the UK Agriculture Act and the Fisheries, Trade and Environment Bills once enacted.
2.11 The UK government was progressively outlining EU Exit SIs for early 2021 that would require consent and the Sub-Committee agreed to continue its previous approach, which was to consent to UK SIs where they did not amend law made by the Senedd and where there was no divergence on policy or political sensitivity.
Item 3: Trade Policy/RoW negotiations and negotiating positions update
3.1 The Counsel General and Minister for European Transition introduced the item, which provided an overview of negotiations issues and how the Welsh Government would respond to them. The Sub-Committee was asked to agree to draft negotiating positions on 3 main areas: the precautionary principle; financial services; and conformity assessments.
3.2 It was reported that the Precautionary Principle, a core principle of EU environmental and public health protection law, was an approach to risk-management used when scientific evidence on the potential impact on environmental or human health was uncertain and the potential for harm existed.
3.3 It placed the burden of proof on those advocating use of a product or process to prove that no negative impacts would result, as opposed to regulators having to prove that something was unsafe. It was noted that the US strongly opposed the use of the Precautionary Principle.
3.4 In Wales, examples of policy areas based on its application included Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS), Food Safety, Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO), chemicals and the environment.
3.5 The Sub-Committee agreed draft negotiating positions that supported the continued use of the precautionary principle; maintained the right to apply the precautionary principle across different devolved policy areas; and ensured that future trade deals did not undermine the ability to use the precautionary principle as a means of domestic risk management.
3.6 In terms of financial services, it was vital to ensure the needs and issues of the sector in Wales aligned with those across the UK.
3.7 It was noted that conformity assessment was the overarching term used for procedures by which products, as well as services, processes, systems and bodies, were evaluated to determine whether they met technical regulations and standards. Conformity assessment for manufactured goods and products to allow them to be placed on the market was the key concern.
3.8 The important negotiating positions agreed by the Sub-Committee were set out in the paper, but the fundamental principle was that no provisions should be made by the UK government that would impact on the Welsh Government’s right to regulate.
Item 4: UK preparedness projects – Delivery dashboard
4.1 The Counsel General and Minister for European Transition introduced the dashboard, which provided an update on preparedness projects and supported a discussion at the Sub-Committee on the preparedness picture as a whole.
4.2 In the discussion, the Sub-Committee noted that there were significant concerns on business readiness, due in part to the impact of the pandemic reducing the capacity and flexibility that businesses might have had to deal with different outcomes to the EU negotiations, and the limited time remaining until the end of the transition period. In addition, the information that was being distributed to businesses was complex and was time consuming to implement. For instance, the borders information published by the UK government ran to over 200 detailed pages of guidance.
Item 5: End of Transition Plan – Delivery dashboard
5.1 The Counsel General and Minister for European Transition introduced the item, which provided on overview of relevant work underway across Welsh Government.
5.2 The End of Transition Action Plan had been published the previous week, which was an important milestone in communicating the actions taken by the Welsh Government to prepare for the end of transition. Attention now had to be focused on delivering against the actions listed in the plan and the Sub-Committed discussed the latest position across the actions.