Present

  • Jeremy Miles AM (Chair)
  • Lesley Griffiths AM
  • Ken Skates AM
  • Kirsty Williams AM
  • Eluned Morgan AM
  • Rebecca Evans AM
  • Jane Hutt AM
  • Piers Bisson – Director, European Transition
  • Simon Brindle – Director, Brexit Strategy
  • Tom Woodward – Special Adviser
  • Alex Bevan – Special Adviser
  • Damian Roche – Cabinet, Plenary and Committee Secretariat (minutes)
  • Sophie Jones – Cabinet Secretariat (minutes)
  • Reg Kilpatrick – Director Local Government
  • Sioned Evans – Director Business and Regions
  • Liz Lalley – Deputy Director, European Transition (Preparedness)
  • Jeff Godfrey – Director of Legal Services Department
  • Ed Sherriff – Deputy Director European Transition (Negotiations)
  • Emma Edworthy – Deputy director Trade Policy
  • Leon Griffiths – Head of Communications, European Transition
  • Peredur John – European Transition team

Apologies

  • Rt Hon. Mark Drakeford AM

Item 1: Minutes of the previous meeting and matters arising

1.1. The minutes of the previous meeting were agreed and all actions noted as complete.

Item 2: Update on developments

2.1 The Counsel General and Brexit Minister gave an update on the latest developments on Brexit and informed the Cabinet Sub-Committee that the First Minister would be meeting the European Commission’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, in Brussels, later that day.

2.2 The First Minister would be explaining to Michel Barnier why the Welsh Government believed that since the UK remained as divided as ever, and as there was no movement in Parliament towards the compromise of a softer form of Brexit, to protect the economy and jobs the decision should go back to the people. Furthermore, the Welsh Government continued to believe that the best option for the people of Wales is for the UK to remain within the EU.

Item 3: Update on EU events

3.1 The Counsel General and Brexit Minister introduced the paper, which provided an update on recent EU events, including the European Parliamentary elections, the anticipated appointment of a new President of the European Commission and of the European Council, and forthcoming high-level business in Brussels.

Item 4: Trade policy update and next steps

4.1 The Minister for International Relations and the Welsh Language introduced the paper, which provided the Sub-Committee with an update on trade policy and negotiations in the event of the UK leaving the EU.

4.2 The Sub-Committee noted the 2 processes in relation to trade. These were trade negotiations, which referred specifically to third country and WTO negotiations, and UK-EU Future Relationship negotiations. It was noted that officials had been working in parallel on both these negotiation processes.

4.3 It would be essential for the Welsh Government to be able to feed in to all stages of the negotiation process. However, it was arguable that the most important stages for Welsh Government would be the development of the negotiations strategy and pre-negotiations phase, where key decisions on ‘trade-offs’ would be made.

4.4 It was reported that the UK government had promised to develop a concordat on international trade, which would set the process for engaging with the devolved administrations (DAs) in more detail in relation to trade negotiations.

4.5 The Sub-Committee noted the importance of DAs having a seat at the negotiating table and ensuring the concordat is put in place. Reassurances had been received from the UK government that no new trade deal negotiations would begin until administrative systems between UK government and DAs were agreed.

4.6 The Sub-Committee noted the paper.

Item 5: EU exit preparedness – reflections and next steps

5.1 The Counsel General and Brexit Minister introduced the paper, which invited the Sub-Committee to note the outcomes of the stock take exercise on Brexit preparedness and to endorse the areas of immediate focus in the likelihood of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit.

5.2 The discussion included particular consideration of the impact of a ‘no-deal’ on vulnerable people in what could be a time of economic uncertainty. It was noted that a number of tools had been developed to support businesses and the public, such as the Preparing Wales/ Paratoi Cymru website and the business portal. This would remain the Welsh Government’s route for engaging directly with the public on Brexit related issues and therefore the point was made that this website would need to be accessible to all.

5.3 The Minister for Economy and Transport updated the Sub-Committee on skills and employability, noting an established Careers Wales Employability Task Force to ensure cross-government engagement to deliver a joined up response to the impacts of Brexit.

5.4 The outcomes of the stocktake exercise on Brexit preparedness and the areas of immediate focus were noted by the Sub-Committee and it was agreed that an update would be provided for the next meeting.

Paper to note: Summary of implications of the transition period in the Withdrawal Agreement

6.1 The Cabinet Sub-Committee noted the paper, which advised on the implications for Wales in the event a deal was agreed and the UK entered into a ‘transition period’.

Cabinet Secretariat
June 2019