Mark Drakeford, Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Rebecca Evans, Minister for Housing and Regeneration
On 11 October, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance attended the Joint Ministerial Committee (EU Negotiations). This meeting included an update from the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU on the progress of negotiations, and discussion of domestic issues related to Brexit, including common frameworks, preparedness and legislation.
The Committee also discussed migration, following the publication of the Migration Advisory Committee’s report and in advance of the anticipated forthcoming UK Government White Paper on this important issue.
The Welsh Government has made clear that migration policy cannot be discussed in a vacuum, not least given that the rights of British citizens to live and work elsewhere in Europe and vice-versa will be a critical part of the negotiations on a future relationship with the EU. The Migration Advisory Committee’s recent report has shown that we will continue to need – and benefit from – migration into the future. It would be foolish to put at risk our access to the EU’s single market by insisting on ending freedom of movement of people between the UK and EU, only to have to increase inward migration from other parts of the world.
Our push for engagement from the UK Government on its proposals for our future relationship with the EU was taken forward by the Minister for Housing and Regeneration, who was joined by the Cabinet Secretary for Education, at the Ministerial Forum on EU Negotiations (MF(EN)) on 22 October. That Forum sits under JMC(EN) and shares the same terms of reference: the meeting on 22 October was its fifth.
The meeting focussed on the UK Government plans and progress on ‘co-operative accords’. The UK Government’s intention is that these accords will provide a strategic approach to cooperation between the UK and the EU, further to agreeing the UK’s participation in individual EU programmes on a case by case basis.
We have been clear that Wales is an outward facing nation, and our universities, innovators and creators work with partners throughout Europe and beyond. We want Welsh universities, colleges, schools, businesses and arts organisations to continue to collaborate in European networks like Horizon 2020, Erasmus + and Creative Europe. We are also clear that the UK Government cannot decide which programmes the UK should continue to participate in without our involvement. And we have voiced our concerns that, for the benefits of these programmes to be fully realised, they cannot be considered in isolation from issues around mobility and service provision.
The UK is at a critical stage in negotiations with the EU in relation to withdrawal issues and the parameters of our future relationship, and we have pushed for engagement in the development of the political declaration which is intended to accompany a withdrawal agreement. We remain clear that a ‘no deal’ scenario must be avoided. The Welsh Government has stood ready to engage with the UK Government throughout the process to date, to contribute to the UK position and ensure that Wales’s interests are protected. We remain committed to these goals, and will continue to update Assembly Members on the progress of this work.