Attendees

  • Mark Drakeford AM – (Chair) Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government
  • Councillor Phil Bale – Leader of City of Cardiff Council
  • Professor Richard B. Davies – Vice-Chancellor, Swansea University
  • Jill Evans MEP – Member of the European Parliament
  • Nathan Gill AM/MEP – Member of the European Parliament
  • David Jones OBE – Principal and Chief Executive, Coleg Cambria
  • Sir Emyr Jones Parry – President, Aberystwyth University
  • Michael Plaut – Chair, CBI Wales
  • Baroness Eluned Morgan A – Former Member of the European Parliament
  • William Powell – Chair of the Cross-Party Group on Europe in the Fourth Assembly
  • Professor Colin Riordan – President and Vice-Chancellor, Cardiff University
  • Kevin Roberts – Chair of the Agriculture Partnership Board
  • Rachel Sharp – Chief Executive, Wildlife Trusts Wales

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

Apologies

  • Kevin Crofton – President, SPTS Technologies Ltd
  • Dr Hywel Ceri Jones – Former EU Funding Ambassador
  • Tom Jones OBE – European Economic and Social Committee (EESC)
  • Lord Kinnock – Former Vice-President of the European Commission
  • Martin Mansfield – General Secretary, Wales TUC
  • Ruth Marks MBE – Chief Executive, Wales Council for Voluntary Action
  • Dr Kay Swinburne MEP – Member of the European Parliament
  • Derek Vaughan MEP – Member of the European Parliament

The meeting was also attended by Julie Morgan AM (as Chair of the All-Wales Programme Monitoring Committee), Jonathan Portes, Professor of Economics and Public Policy and his assistant, Giuseppe Forte, Kings College London. Steve Martin and Dan Bristow, Public Policy Institute for Wales (PPIW) also attended the meeting.

1. Introduction

The Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government opened the meeting and welcomed the EAG members to this third meeting. He also introduced Michael Plaut, Chair CBI Wales, who had been invited to join the group. The Cabinet Secretary outlined the agenda and explained that for part of the meeting members would break into 2 groups for more concentrated discussion on Transitional Arrangements and Future Regional Economic Policy. Group conveners would then be asked to share feedback collectively with all the members in the full meeting.

2. Update on developments

The Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government updated the group on developments both at a UK level and within Wales. Areas covered included intergovernmental discussions (notably the plenary meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee held in January in Cardiff and chaired by the Prime Minister and the Joint Ministerial Committee for EU Negotiations meeting held in February), the Article 50 legal proceedings, the Welsh Government White Paper, the UK Government White Paper and National Assembly Business. On the latest area, the Cabinet Secretary invited Eluned Morgan to give an overview of the recent report from the External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee.

3. White Paper: Securing Wales’ Future

The Cabinet Secretary noted that the joint Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru White Paper had been published on 23 January. The paper outlines Wales’ key strategic interests and priorities as the UK prepares to leave the EU. He thanked the EAG members for their contributions which had helped to inform it and explained how key points identified in the White Paper reflected issues covered at the 2 previous EAG meetings.

4. Immigration Policy after Brexit: issues and options

Jonathan Portes, Professor of Economics and Public Policy, Kings College London, delivered a presentation titled ‘Immigration Policy after Brexit: issues and options’. His overview focused on the current operational system, and on exploring the main issues and the options of relevance for consideration of a new migration system. It provided an analysis of the key issues that the Welsh Government will need to consider in determining its view on future migration policy, focusing on the potential economic impacts, the impact on skills and population levels, public services and societal/community issues. The presentations led into a range of questions and discussions on issues arising, including possible regional visas, the relationship between work permits and residence controls, and the continuing need for migrant labour in many sectors in Wales.

5. Discussion groups

The members divided into 2 discussion groups, with convenors: Transitional Arrangements – Eluned Morgan; and Future Regional Economic Policy – David Jones. Officials from the Welsh European Funding Office had prepared a paper for, and supported, the Future Regional Economic Policy discussion group; the Welsh Government European Transition Team similarly had prepared a paper and supported the other group.

6. Feedback from discussion groups

(Sir Emyr Jones Parry chaired the meeting from this point as the Cabinet Secretary had to leave for another commitment.)

The following main points made in each group were reported back to the full group.

Transitional arrangements

  • It will be important to put in place transitional arrangements, as it will require longer than 2 years to negotiate a new long-term relationship with the EU.
  • The needs of the different business sectors and public services to be taken into consideration, and the avoidance of tariffs were the highest priorities.
  • We must have a mature dialogue with the EU highlighting reciprocal measures, conceding some financial gains for some kind of deal on trading agreements.
  • Early consideration of the extent of the legal and policy work required to replace existing EU laws and regulations was important.

Future regional economic policy

  • Consider new options for the future – not just to replace the funding. This is a chance to consider new ways of doing things in the future.
  • Need to look at best practice/examples around the world, not just in Europe, to consider options for new ways of working.
  • Opportunity to consider new schemes based on City Deals and Growth deal models.

7. Discussion of forward work programmes

A list of provisional dates was provided to the group at the November meeting, up to and including December 2017. The next meeting will be held on 25 May.