The Welsh Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Environment and the Northern Ireland Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs met to discuss the EU referendum result.
Agricultural and environmental policy is almost entirely devolved. During the meeting both Ministers agreed the vital importance of devolved nations being fully engaged in negotiations over the terms of the UK’s exit from the EU and that exit should not result in loss of devolved responsibility for determining future programmes and policies.
They also called on the UK Government to honour earlier commitments that EU funding would be replaced by domestic funds and emphasised the importance of achieving continued access to the Single Market.
Lesley Griffiths said:
“The referendum result has raised a number of uncertainties common across all our devolved administrations. Today’s meeting gave us an opportunity to discuss our priorities post-Brexit and how we can work together to ensure these are included in the UK Government’s negotiations on the terms and timings of the UK’s exit from the EU.
“EU membership has provided the framework for funding and regulation of agriculture and environment across the whole UK, as well as being important to our trading relationships, so it is vital that we play our full part as devolved administrations in determining the basis for future policy, programmes and regulations.”
Minister McIlveen said:
“I am very pleased to attend the Royal Welsh Show at the invitation of Lesley Griffiths and to see for myself the strength and diversity of the agri-food industry in Wales.
“We are all now operating in the context of the UK’s vote to leave the European Union and my top priority is to ensure Northern Ireland’s agri-food industry, rural communities and environmental stakeholders fully exploit this new opportunity.
“I do not, however, underestimate the challenges ahead. That is why I am committed to working with Government colleagues in all of the devolved administrations within the UK to ensure that the livestock and crop sectors continue to be supported. Indeed I emphasised this position to DEFRA Minister George Eustice when we met in Brussels earlier this week.”