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Attendees

  • Mark Drakeford AM – (Chair) Cabinet Secretary for Finance
  • Dr Hywel Ceri Jones – Former EU Funding Ambassador
  • 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
  • Martin Mansfield – General Secretary, Wales TUC
  • 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
  • Tom Jones OBE – European Economic and Social Committee (EESC)
  • Julie Morgan AM – Chair of the All-Wales Programme Monitoring Committee

*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
  • Professor Richard B. Davies – Vice-Chancellor, Swansea University

1. Introduction

The Cabinet Secretary for Finance opened the meeting and welcomed the First Minister and the EAG members to this 9th meeting. He also introduced Elmar Brok MEP, who had been invited to attend the meeting.

The Cabinet Secretary outlined the agenda and explained that the meeting would include a presentation by Elmar Brok MEP, European People’s Party, European Parliament - A look into the future: what comes after Brexit and a discussion session on Welsh Government Preparedness for Brexit. He then invited the First Minister to address the group.

The First Minister reiterated the Welsh Government’s key priorities in relation to the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, and the importance of securing full and unfettered access to the Single Market.

He welcomed the transition agreement but acknowledged there are still major issues to resolve, such as exploring options and solutions with regard to Ireland and the ongoing concerns around trading outside of a Customs Union model.

The First Minister confirmed that we will continue to pursue trading opportunities outside the EU and we remain committed to promoting Wales’ economic interests around the world. In addition, trading with the EU is still one of Wales’ highest priorities.

2. A look into the future – what comes after Brexit

Elmar Brok MEP, European People’s Party, European Parliament gave a presentation to the members outlining the role of the European Parliament in the Brexit process and an insight into how the relationship with the UK will change once it has exited the European Union.

3. Update on developments

The Cabinet Secretary for Finance updated the group on developments both at the EU and UK level and within Wales since the last meeting. Areas covered included:

  • First Minister’s attendance at the JMC(P) meeting on 14 March
  • the agreement reached on 19 March on a 21 month period time limited transition period, to prepare for departure
  • on 23 March the European Council adopted guidelines on the framework for a future relationship with the UK post-Brexit
  • Ministerial attendance at the JMC(EN) meetings in February and March
  • confirmation of the next meeting of the JMC(EN), scheduled for 2 May
  • maintaining the key goal of ensuring there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and rights of citizens protected
  • the EU (Withdrawal Bill) – Law Derived from the European union (Wales) Bill (LDEU)
  • agreement reached on 24 April between the UK and Welsh Government on changes to clause 11 of the EU Withdrawal Bill
  • the agreement that the LDEU Bill passed by the Assembly will now be repealed.

4. Welsh Government Preparedness for Brexit

The Cabinet Secretary for Finance introduced the paper and provided an update on Welsh Government activities to date, which included how the Welsh Government intends to press the UK government for greater collaborative working and engagement. The group discussion centred on:

  • the need to ensure the EU Transition Fund is used as part of our Brexit plans to directly help businesses and public services for the significant changes ahead
  • confirmation that the first tranche of funding will be announced in the near future and any ideas for initiatives and interventions of strategic value to Wales would be welcomed
  • collaboration with external partners and organisations is key in determining the correct projects to support;
  • the need for the Welsh Government to continue working to secure a much stronger, structured engagement and joint working with the UK government
  • welcomed the confirmation that the JMC(EN) meetings are now more regular and structured
  • the establishment and continuation of the officials’ intergovernmental Frameworks Group reporting to JMC(EN) to move forward the delivery and policy issues of the frameworks
  • concerns around the large volume of correcting subordinate legislation which will need to be enacted before the UK leaves the EU
  • recognising that collaborating, utilising skills and the sharing of information is key when drafting Statutory Instruments and Legislation.

In conclusion, the Cabinet Secretary invited members to submit any other written comments on the Welsh Government’s Preparedness paper or the EU Transition Fund to the EAG Secretariat.

5. Next steps and any other business

A list of planned meeting dates for 2018 had been provided to the group last December. The next meeting will be held on 12 July in the afternoon.

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