Mark Drakeford has said he will do all he can to ensure that there is no loss of funding to Wales following the result of last week’s EU referendum.
Speaking ahead of oral questions in the Senedd, he said the UK government must guarantee every penny of funding which the EU currently provides.
He added that EU Structural Funds play a vital role in supporting growth and jobs across Wales and any loss of funds will have a impact on people, businesses and communities.
Mark Drakeford said:
“Wales is a net beneficiary from the European Union. The millions of pounds Wales receives from the EU help people into work and training; support businesses; drive innovation and help to regenerate communities. The UK Government must guarantee that Wales will not lose out from an EU withdrawal.”
Since 2007, EU projects have created 11,900 enterprises and some 37,000 (gross) jobs; helped 72,700 people into work; helped more than 229,000 people gain qualifications and 56,000 people into further learning since 2007.
Under the current £1.8bn EU-supported programmes, more than £700m of EU Structural Funds have already been committed, 40% of the total allocation for the 2014-20 period.
Mark Drakeford said:
“Funding cuts will have a real impact on our budgets and strategies for growth and jobs. The First Minister has written to the UK Prime Minister about this very issue. While arrangements for a Brexit are being made for the longer term, we will continue to deliver existing EU programmes in Wales, investing in projects to ensure continuity for citizens, communities, farmers and businesses.”
As part of an EU exit, the UK government must give notification under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty which would give up to 2 years to negotiate its withdrawal.
The Cabinet Secretary added:
“It is a priority for us to seek clarification from the UK government about the nature, timing and outcome of negotiations for a UK exit and how significant EU funds for Wales will be replaced, particularly for those parts of Wales which need these the most.
“Wales must be involved in the negotiations so we get the best deal for Wales. This includes the need for urgent reform of the out-dated Barnett formula by the UK Government to ensure a fairer funding system for Wales, taking into account needs arising from EU withdrawal.”