- Mark Drakeford AM – (Chair) Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government
- Jill Evans MEP – Member of the European Parliament
- Dr Hywel Ceri Jones – Former EU Funding Ambassador
- Nathan Gill AM/MEP – Member of the European Parliament
- Tom Jones OBE – European Economic and Social Committee (EESC)
- Sir Emyr Jones Parry – President, Aberystwyth University (by skype)
- Lord Kinnock – Former Vice-President of the European Commission
- Ruth Marks MBE – Chief Executive, Wales Council for Voluntary Action
- Baroness Eluned Morgan AM – Former Member of the European Parliament
- Michael Plaut – Chair, CBI Wales
- William Powell – Chair of the Cross-Party Group on Europe in the Fourth Assembly
- Professor Colin Riordan – President and Vice-Chancellor, Cardiff University
- Rachel Sharp – Chief Executive, Wildlife Trusts Wales
- Councillor Rob Stewart – Leader of Swansea Council
*A small number of Welsh Government officials were also present in support.
- Professor Richard B. Davies – Vice-Chancellor, Swansea University
- Kevin Crofton – President, SPTS Technologies Ltd
- David Jones OBE – Principal and Chief Executive, Coleg Cambria
- Martin Mansfield – General Secretary, Wales TUC
- Kevin Roberts – Chair of the Agriculture Partnership Board
- Dr Kay Swinburne MEP – Member of the European Parliament
- Derek Vaughan MEP – Member of the European Parliament
The meeting was also attended by Dan Bristow, Deputy Director of the Public Policy Institute for Wales (PPIW) and Catherine May, the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s Brexit Lead for Wales.
The Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government welcomed the EAG members to this fifth meeting. He also introduced Councillor Rob Stewart, Leader of Swansea Council and Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) spokesperson on Economic Development, Europe and Energy, who had been invited to join the group, replacing Councillor Phil Bale. The Cabinet Secretary outlined the agenda and explained that the meeting would include 3 presentations: Citizens’ Rights, Migration and Equalities.
2. Update on developments
The Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government updated the group on developments both at the EU and UK level and within Wales since the last meeting. Areas covered included: the General Election; the start of the formal negotiations; the Welsh Government policy document Brexit and Devolution; and the EU Withdrawal Bill (formerly the Great Repeal Bill).
The Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government then invited comments from the Group. Discussions covered a wide range of issues including:
- concerns regarding the content of the EU Withdrawal Bill and how Wales could ensure its interests could best be represented in the legislative process
- the possibility of a Welsh “Continuity Bill to complement the EU Withdrawal Bill
- how Wales can best engage with the UK in the absence of regular meetings of the Joint Ministerial Committee on European Negotiations
- the importance of the European Parliament and the European Economic & Social Committee in the Brexit negotiations
- the Recent Welsh Government policy document Brexit and Devolution
- the options of different trade agreement models
- the different impacts of either a “hard” or “soft” Brexit
- the need to keep businesses and the economy running through and after the Brexit process
- the need to explain the Brexit process to people as it progressed
- the importance of working with Ireland on various issues
- the future role of the European Advisory Group, particularly in relation to influencing others.
3. Citizens’ rights
Ruth Marks, gave a presentation on Citizens’ Rights covering related points in terms of the emerging negotiations around this issue, with both the UK and the EU each now having stated positions on mutual recognition of citizens’ rights, post-Brexit. The Group discussion centred on:
- the affect that Brexit will have on Human Rights under the EU Treaties
- the need for a swift resolution of the issues of living and working in each others’ territories, particularly in higher education and also in high-skilled and low-skilled sectors
- the importance of Mutual Recognition of Qualifications
- the need to preserve equalities
- the possible need to phase in changes to protect citizens’ rights.
Dan Bristow, PPIW introduced the Migration paper that PPIW has been working on with the input from Jonathan Portes, Kings College London, and as outlined in the 9 February meeting note.
The Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government explained that Welsh Government intended to publish a policy document soon setting out its preferred approach to managed migration to support the Welsh economy.
Subsequent discussion by the group centred on:
- the continuing need for migrant labour in many sectors in Wales, but with a global market for talent in high-skilled sectors this could be challenging
- recognition that effective managed migration will be crucial to the future of the Welsh economy
- the need for enforcement measures to tackle exploitation of low-paid workers
- the need to clarify how families and dependents of migrants could be properly provided for
- the importance of the principles Articles 48 and 49 of the Treaty of Rome which provide for free of movement for workers
- the need for the UK to have a sound negotiating position that represented the needs of Wales.
Catherine May, the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s (EHRC) delivered a presentation on Brexit implications for equalities in Wales. She outlined the EHRC’s 5 point plan on how Britain can keep and strengthen its status as a world leader on equality and human rights after we leave the European Union. The group consensus was that leaving the EU should in no way reduce our focus on promoting equalities and challenging discrimination wherever it exists. Some members also emphasised that rights had to be balanced against the need for economic development.
6. Next steps and any other business
The need to develop further collaborative working with the Scottish First Minister’s Standing Council on Europe was acknowledged.
It was agreed that the next meeting might include a CBI paper, and possibly an item on the Environment presented by the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs. There would also be an opportunity for further discussion on the future role of the European Advisory Group.
A list of planned meeting dates had been provided to the Group at the November 2016 meeting, up to and including December 2017. The next meeting would be held on 5 October in the afternoon.