Attendees

  • Huw Irranca-Davies AM – Chair
  • Jeremy Miles AM – Counsel General and Brexit Minister
  • David Jones OBE – Principal and Chief Executive, Coleg Cambria
  • Michael Plaut – Former Chair, CBI Wales
  • Sir Emyr Jones Parry – Former President, Aberystwyth University
  • Rachel Sharp – Chief Executive, Wildlife Trusts Wales
  • Dr Chris Jones – Chair of Health Education and Improvement Wales
  • Professor Jo Hunt – Wales Governance Centre, Cardiff University
  • Professor Colin Riordan – President and Vice-Chancellor, Cardiff University
  • Alec Don – Former CEO, Milford Haven Port Authority
  • Baroness Ilora Finlay of Llandaff – House of Lords
  • Kevin Crofton – Llywydd, SPTS Technologies Ltd
  • Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd – Former Lord Chief Justice
  • Ruth Marks MBE – Chief Executive, Wales Council for Voluntary Action
  • Tim Peppin – WLGA

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

Apologies

  • Councillor Rob Stewart – WLGA/Leader of Swansea City Council
  • Kevin Roberts – Chair of Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC)
  • Martin Mansfield – General Secretary, Wales TUC
  • William Powell – Chair of the Cross-Party Group on Europe in the Fourth Assembly
  • Alison Lea-Wilson MBE – Co-founder Halen Môn/Anglesey Sea Salt
  • Tom Jones OBE – European Economic and Social Committee (EESC)
  • Dr Hywel Ceri Jones – Former EU Funding Ambassador
  • Jill Evans MEP – Member of the European Parliament
  • Nathan Gill MEP – Member of the European Parliament
  • Dr Kay Swinburne MEP – Member of the European Parliament
  • Derek Vaughan MEP – Member of the European Parliament

1. Introduction

Huw Irranca-Davies AM, Chair of the European Advisory Group opened the meeting and welcomed the EAG members to this 16th meeting.

The Chair outlined the agenda and explained that the meeting would include an Update on Developments (Counsel General and Brexit Minister) and a presentation on the Sectoral and Spatial Impact of Brexit (Counsel General and Brexit Minister and Director of Brexit Strategy, Welsh Government).

2. Update on developments

The Chair invited the Counsel General and Brexit Minister to update the Group on significant developments at both a UK and Wales level.

The Brexit Minister confirmed that he welcomed the flexible extension, which allows more time to determine a way forward for the UK to leave the EU in an orderly way. However, he reiterated his concerns that elected politicians must now act responsibly to agree a deal that would safeguard the interests of people in Wales and across the UK.

A likely leadership challenge could still result in a ‘no deal’ exit in the autumn and he confirmed that he had raised these concerns at the Joint Ministerial Committee meeting on EU Negotiations on 9 May. He confirmed that the Welsh Government is continuing to monitor the UK situation in preparation for the 31 October deadline.

Group discussion centred on:

  • request for local government to be involved in developing the UK-wide policy frameworks which will replace EU frameworks, to represent their areas of interest, such as Trading Standards 
  • concerns about mental health problems for farm workers and the support they require
  • possible collaboration between Welsh Government and Department of Education regarding the Erasmus programme
  • ongoing concerns by SMEs and the prolonged uncertainty following the extension until 31 October and the need to continue communicating with SMEs
  • in addition to the Brexit Portal consider further advice and guidance for SMEs on how Brexit will affect them
  • the Welsh Government to continue its work around the impact on both large and small companies in the supply chain
  • national security including electricity networks and telecommunications
  • the need to build and strengthen the relationship between civil society and academic partners
  • undertake a stocktake of legislative impacts on sectors including the environmental sector.

With a view to the European Parliament elections on 23 May, the Group put on record their thanks to those Members of Parliament who were not standing for re-election.

3. Sectoral and spatial impact of Brexit

The Counsel General and Brexit Minister and the Director of Brexit Strategy outlined the work that the Welsh Government has undertaken to examine the different Brexit scenarios, to understand how the potential changes in the structure of agriculture, forestry and fishing will look spatially and how these may influence the indirect impacts of Brexit.

Group discussion centred on:

  • the sharing of data with stakeholders to input to the work being undertaken by the Welsh Government
  • addressing any gaps in the research undertaken so far
  • the policies required to assist with identified impacts
  • consider the inclusion of any other analysis available, for instance prepared by other public service bodies such as the Third Sector data hub
  • consider the socio-economic impacts on communities, Welsh language etc
  • consider variable effects on people in urban and rural Wales
  • scenario planning for the further and higher education sectors
  • preparation of a cross sectoral Recovery Plan post Brexit
  • formation of regional hotspots to address regional issues and concerns – for example map ecological hotspots, innovation hotspots, and public services for specific professions and up-skilling required
  • assessment against a changing landscape in Wales
  • underscore the importance of skills, connectivity and innovation
  • the contribution that can be made by innovation and R&D in Wales
  • consider digital infrastructure such as medi-tech hubs
  • once the analysis is complete, issuing to the public.

4. Next steps and any other business

The Chair summed up the meeting and confirmed:

  • he would arrange for a few headline messages on the Brexit extension to be circulated to EAG members promptly for further dissemination to networks and partners (annexed)
  • the Welsh Government would continue the extensive work it was doing both internally and with external stakeholders in preparation for a worst case ‘no deal’ Brexit scenario
  • the EAG should continue to ensure its voice was heard in all decisions made that would affect Wales post Brexit
  • that Eluned Morgan AM, in her role as Minister for International Relations and the Welsh Language, would attend the EAG on 11 July
  • as Chair he would consider the other suggestions for future agenda items
  • the Group would consider a review of its Terms of Reference, membership and activities in due course
  • the next EAG meeting was scheduled for 11 July.