In my statement of 18 June I informed members that I have been issuing a series of letters to the UK Government across the negotiating strands on the UK/ EU Future Relationship talks to set out more details on the Welsh Government’s negotiating priorities.
These letters build and expand on the approach set out in our document, The future UK/EU relationship: negotiating priorities for Wales, published in January 2020, which included economic analysis of the impact of different outcomes to the negotiations on the UK. The letters also build on the letters which the First Minister and I wrote to UK Government Ministers in February 2020 ahead of the UK Government approach being published, and points which I have pressed since then in meetings and calls with UK Government Ministers.
The letters make it clear that while the Welsh Government would have set a different approach to the negotiations than the one advanced by the UK Government, we remain committed to taking a constructive approach with regard to the negotiations in an attempt to ensure that Welsh interests and potential impacts on Wales are taken properly into account in the UK’s negotiating positions. In the absence of meaningful Ministerial engagement where UK Ministers discuss and seek to agree with us not just their formal starting position but the approach they expect to take as the negotiations evolve, we have therefore taken the approach of setting out detail on our negotiating priorities in this series of letters.
The letters cover the 11 work streams for the negotiations, namely the Level Playing Field, Governance, Law Enforcement and Judicial Cooperation, Fisheries, EU programmes, Trade in Services, Trade in Goods, Mobility, Energy and Civil Nuclear Cooperation, Transport and Civil Judicial Cooperation. These letters are attached to this statement. I have received responses to some but not all of these letters, but the responses do not provide me with reassurance that the interests and priorities of Wales are being taken into account by the UK Government in its approach to the negotiations.
We will continue to take those limited opportunities that are available to press for the interests of Wales to be reflected in the UK Government’s negotiating stance. It is deeply concerning, though, that the UK Government seems determined to pursue only a very limited trade deal with the EU – which risks doing major damage businesses and jobs in Wales – and that even achieving that modest ambition is in doubt due to the UK Government’s intransigent approach to the negotiations as a whole.
This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Senedd returns I would be happy to do so.