Present

  • Rt. Hon. Carwyn Jones AM – First Minister (Chair)
  • Mark Drakeford AM
  • Lesley Griffiths AM
  • Ken Skates AM
  • Kirsty Williams AM
  • Alun Davies AM
  • Sir Derek Jones KCB – Permanent Secretary
  • Des Clifford – Director, Office of the First Minister and Cabinet Office
  • Peter Greening – Head of Cabinet Division
  • Piers Bisson – Deputy Director, European Transition
  • Matt Greenough – Special Adviser
  • Madeleine Brindley – Special Adviser
  • Andrew Johnson – Special Adviser
  • Alex Rawlin – Special Adviser
  • Gareth Williams – Special Adviser
  • Tom Woodward – Special Adviser
  • Damian Roche – Cabinet, Plenary and Committee Secretariat (minutes)
  • Jonathan Price – Chief Economist
  • Andrew Jeffreys – Director, Treasury
  • Toby Mason – Director of Communications

Item 1: Introduction and terms of reference

1.1. The First Minister welcomed members to the first meeting of the Cabinet Subcommittee on European Transition and referred to the terms of reference, which stated that the Sub-Committee would provide strategic direction to the Welsh Government’s work, with a view to securing the best outcome for the people of Wales.

1.2. The Sub-committee would ensure coherent development and implementation of the Welsh Government’s strategy on European transition and provide robust analysis of the challenges and opportunities faced by Wales, as well as identifying priorities and outcomes. The Sub-Committee would seek to maximise influence in negotiations at UK and EU level in order to achieve the best outcomes for the people of Wales. It would also create effective communication and engagement with stakeholders across Wales and beyond, to help lead the debate on Wales’ future relationship with Europe and the rest of the World.

1.3. The Sub-Committee approved the terms of reference.

Item 2: Stocktake of current position

2.1 The First Minister introduced the paper, which provided an update on developments in Wales and across the UK following the EU referendum.

2.2 The First Minister had already set out a number of Welsh Government priorities for EU Transition immediately after the referendum. These had been supplemented with subsequent statements by the First Minister and other ministers and the priorities had been reflected in correspondence to the Prime Minister.

2.3 The First Minister had also approved the establishment of an EU Advisory Group, chaired by the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government, which would harness the considerable EU expertise in Wales.

2.4 The Sub-Committee agreed the paper.

Item 3: Priorities and key policy issues

3.1 The First Minister introduced the paper, which considered the priorities, key issues, opportunities and risks for the Welsh Government arising from the UK leaving the EU. This initial analysis carried out across the Welsh Government would assist with the Welsh Government’s early negotiations with the UK government following the EU referendum.

3.2 The Sub-committee approved the paper.

Item 4: Financial challenges during EU transition

4.1 The Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government introduced the paper, which considered the main financial challenges arising for the Welsh Government from the UK leaving the EU.

4.2 There were 2 main challenges for the Welsh Government, firstly managing the uncertainty over the future of EU-funded programmes; and secondly the overall impact of leaving the EU on the UK economy and the subsequent implications for public finances.

4.3 In relation to the first, the current EU-funded programmes were worth approximately £650 million per year to the Welsh Government. The First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government had made it clear to the UK government that Wales should not lose a penny of the funding currently received. In response, the UK government had announced that contracts for certain EU-funded programmes (e.g. Structural Funds) that were signed off before the Autumn Statement on 23rd November would be fully funded.

4.4 In addition, the UK government had confirmed that HM Treasury would guarantee that the agricultural sector in Wales would receive the same level of funding for direct payments until 2020 and that payment of awards under Commission managed funds e.g. Horizon 2020 would continue.

4.5 The Cabinet Sub-committee agreed the paper.

Item 5: Communications

5.1 The First Minister introduced the paper, which outlined a draft narrative and high level messages on issues arising from the EU referendum.

5.2 The Cabinet Sub-Committee approved the paper.

Item 6: Forward Work programme

6.1 The Sub-committee agreed the forward work programme and noted that the Higher Education group, established by the Cabinet Secretary for Education, would hold its first meeting in September.

Cabinet, Plenary and Committee Secretariat
September 2016