Attendees

  • Mark Drakeford AM – (Chair) Cabinet Secretary for Finance
  • Professor Richard B. Davies – Vice-Chancellor, Swansea University
  • David Jones OBE – Principal and Chief Executive, Coleg Cambria
  • Michael Plaut – Chair, CBI Wales
  • William Powell – Chair of the Cross-Party Group on Europe in the Fourth Assembly
  • Ruth Marks MBE – Chief Executive, Wales Council for Voluntary Action
  • Kevin Roberts – Chair of Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC)
  • Rachel Sharp – Chief Executive, Wildlife Trusts Wales
  • Councillor Rob Stewart – WLGA/Leader of Swansea City Council
  • Julie Morgan AM – Chair of the All-Wales Programme Monitoring Committee
  • Dr Chris Jones – Chair of Health Education and Improvement Wales
  • Baroness Ilora Finlay of Llandaff – House of Lords
  • Dr Jo Hunt – Wales Governance Centre, Cardiff University
  • Alec Don – CEO, Milford Haven Port Authority

*A small number of Welsh Government officials were also present in support.

Apologies

  • Sir Emyr Jones Parry – President, Aberystwyth University
  • Kevin Crofton – President, SPTS Technologies Ltd
  • Professor Colin Riordan – President and Vice-Chancellor, Cardiff University
  • Jill Evans MEP – Member of the European Parliament
  • Nathan Gill MEP – Member of the European Parliament
  • The Rt Hon. the Lord Kinnock – Former Vice-President of the European Commission
  • Dr Kay Swinburne MEP – Member of the European Parliament
  • Derek Vaughan MEP – Member of the European Parliament
  • Dr Hywel Ceri Jones – Former EU Funding Ambassador
  • Tom Jones OBE – European Economic and Social Committee (EESC)
  • Alison Lea-Wilson – Co-founder Halen Môn/Anglesey Sea Salt
  • Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd – Former Lord Chief Justice

Introduction

The Cabinet Secretary for Finance opened the meeting and welcomed the EAG members to this tenth meeting. He also welcomed Dr Chris Jones, Chair of Health Education and Improvement Wales; Alec Don, CEO of Milford Haven Port Authority; Baroness Ilora Finlay of Llandaff, House of Lords; and Dr Jo Hunt, Wales Governance Centre, Cardiff University, who had been invited to join the Group.

The Cabinet Secretary outlined the agenda and explained that the meeting would include presentations by Jonathan Price, Chief Economist, Welsh Government – Brexit and Our Economy; the Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs on the latest Welsh Government policy consultation document – Brexit and Our Land, to include an exchange of views with Chris Kebbell, Agriculture Counsellor, New Zealand High Commission, London.

1. Update on developments

The Cabinet Secretary for Finance updated the group on developments both at a UK level and within Wales. The 3 main aspects included the Ministerial Forum, the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill agreement and the Chequers’ meeting and publication of the UK White Paper.

Areas covered included:

  • discussions about UK positions for negotiations on the future relationship with the EU, takes place in a Ministerial Forum which reports into the JMC(EN)
  • the Forum has met twice to date (24 May and 27 June) and the next meeting is scheduled for 1 August in Cardiff. The Minister for Housing and Regeneration is the Welsh Government’s representative on the Forum
  • European Union (Withdrawal) Bill – now Act – Welsh Ministers have come to an agreement with the UK Government on their proposed EU (Withdrawal) Bill that means areas already devolved remain devolved
  • there are some limited areas where there is a need to agree UK wide rules to replace the current EU wide rules
  • all devolved powers and policy areas rest in Wales, unless specified to be temporarily held by the UK Government. These will be areas where there is a need for common, UK-wide rules
  • the UK government met at Chequers on 6 July and announced the Cabinet had “reached an agreement” on the White Paper
  • the UK White Paper was published on 12 July – The future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union; and
  • Welsh Government believes that a flexible approach from the EU27 is needed to avoid the catastrophic ‘no deal’ scenario’.

Group discussion centred on:

  • whether the Prime Minister will be able to achieve agreement on the UK White Paper with her Cabinet, Parliament and ultimately with the EU
  • concerns that we only have a short time left to negotiate any kind of a deal and the avoidance of a ‘no deal’ situation at all costs
  • major concerns regarding trading with the EU and free trade agreements
  • the possibility that companies will soon be making plans based on the worst case scenario
  • how we can ensure that Wales retains EU citizens who make a positive contribution to daily life in Wales – working in our key economic sectors and academic institutions, delivering essential public services and playing an important role in our communities.

Further updates on developments are included in annex 1.

2. Brexit and our economy

Jonathan Price, Chief Economist, Welsh Government delivered a presentation, Brexit and Our Economy, assessing what we have learned since 2016. The economic assessment is reliant on political outcomes, so it is still too early to predict with any definite certainty.

Group discussion led to the conclusion that more needs to be done to ensure that Wales is operationally ready as the UK exits the European Union.

3. Brexit and Our Land

The Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs introduced the latest in our Brexit-related policy position papers - Brexit and Our Land. The consultation document sets out a new Land Management Programme to support Welsh farmers post-Brexit, replacing the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The document was published on 10 July and the consultation period will end in October. The document proposes 2 new large and flexible schemes to replace Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), Glastir and other parts of the Rural Development Programme:

  • The Economic Resilience Scheme will provide targeted investment to land managers and their supply chains. It will provide investment to increase competitiveness and make improvements in resilience and productivity for high-quality food production.
  • The Public Goods Scheme will provide a new income stream to land managers delivering public goods from the land. It will enable them to help address challenges such as climate change mitigation, habitat loss, poor air and water quality.

The document was well received and the members made the following main additional points in discussion:

  • welcomed the opportunity to do things differently as we exit the EU, but reiterating that now is the time to prepare
  • confirmation sought that land managers could participate in both schemes
  • the importance of utilising Wales’ natural capital to develop new markets
  • an opportunity for us to develop new policies for Wales
  • developing rural skills for the next generation of land managers
  • the importance that Wales should not lose a penny after leaving the EU
  • all land managers will have the opportunity to benefit from the new schemes, not just those currently receiving CAP. However, people will need to do things differently in return for this support.

The Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs acknowledged the contributions from her Brexit stakeholder roundtable to the consultation document.

4. Chris Kebbell, Agriculture Counsellor, New Zealand High Commission, London

Chris shared his experiences of New Zealand’s extensive agricultural reforms with the group members.

5. Next steps and any other business

The Cabinet Secretary informed Members of the forthcoming policy paper, Reforming UK Funding and Fiscal Arrangements after Brexit.

The next meeting will be held on 20 September.