The Chair welcomed EAG members to the conference call.
The Counsel General and Brexit Minister updated the group on developments including on the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration, Withdrawal Agreement Bill, a possible Brexit extension, and no deal preparedness.
Key points included:
- We needed an extension of Article 50 to ensure we did not crash out on 31 October and to give Parliament and the National Assembly time to scrutinise the Withdrawal Agreement Bill
- The deal as it stood was a bad deal for Wales and the rest of Great Britain because it would make us poorer, allow environmental and labour rights to be undermined, and put a hard economic border in the Irish Sea, which would hurt our exporting businesses and the future prospects for Welsh businesses more broadly
- It was in Wales’ best interests to remain in the EU, so we needed to put the issue back to the people, in a referendum with remain on the ballot paper.
The Chair led an exchange of views which covered:
- discussion on level of ambition around future partnership in the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration (to be continued at next meeting)
- the absence of an equality as well as an economic impact assessment of the deal
- the impact and implications on Welsh ports, Holyhead in particular, and the rural economy
- our status as a third country and what this means for accessing EU funding programmes such as Horizon and Erasmus, as well as the European Investment Bank, in future
- student mobility, including studying overseas and attracting overseas students to Wales
- deregulation agenda, in relation to environment, social, workers and consumers rights, and shift away from dynamic alignment;
- future security co-operation e.g. the Common European Arrest Warrant post-Brexit
- potential for no deal at end of the transition period, alternatively an extension of 1-2 years beyond the transition period end date (December 2020)
- the ongoing importance of the Welsh Government sharing no deal preparedness advice and guidance via the Preparing Wales website
- ongoing support available from Business Wales and the Development Bank
- the welfare system and consequences for vulnerable communities, and our ongoing support for third sector and voluntary associations
- EU citizens’ rights and settled status scheme, and one-stop-shop for service provision available – www.eusswales.com
- General health and wellbeing considerations and GP experiences
- the UK’s internal market and integrity of the union
- the reality that Wales/UK will be negotiating future agreements with the EU for a long time to come.
The Chair summed up the meeting, invited members to share their analysis of the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration, as well as further observations and reflections of the deal, and confirmed the next EAG meeting was scheduled for 5 December.