Debate on the Second Anniversary on the EU Referendum

Published 18/06/2018   |   Last Updated 27/05/2021   |   Reading Time minutes

The Welsh Government has tabled a debate for 19 June on the Second Anniversary of the EU referendum. Since the referendum was held on 23 June 2016 the Welsh Government has published a number of policy papers outlining its position on UK’s withdrawal from the EU. The Assembly’s External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee (@SeneddEAAL) has also published a series of reports setting out its views on the implications of Brexit for Wales and on Wales’ future relationship with the EU. This blog highlights the policy positions the Welsh Government has taken since the referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU and the work of the External Affairs Committee on Brexit.

The Welsh Government’s position to date

In January 2017, the Welsh Government published a joint White Paper with Plaid Cymru, Securing Wales’ Future (PDF 2.83MB) , setting out their priorities for a future relationship between Wales and the EU. The paper called on the UK to secure ‘unfettered’ access to the Single Market and stated that the Welsh Government was not persuaded at that time that leaving the Customs Union would deliver economic benefits to Wales. On migration the paper stated that in future the freedom of movement of people from the EU into Wales should be linked to employment with an exception for students and those able to sustain themselves. It also called for a transition period. The First Minister has stated that the Welsh Government’s position has not fundamentally changed in any way since the publications of this paper.

The Welsh Government has also published four other Brexit related policy papers since the referendum:

  • In June 2017 it published a paper on Brexit and Devolution (PDF 641.97 KB). This paper calls for a change in the UK’s internal governance structures post-Brexit and the creation of a new Council of UK and devolved Ministers.
  • In September 2017 it published a paper on Brexit and the Fair Movement of People (PDF 1.34MB) which called for a regional approach to migration post-Brexit.
  • In March 2018 it published a paper on Regional Investment in Wales after Brexit (pdf 1.74MB) which set out the Welsh Government’s support for the continuation of regional investment after Brexit and some proposals for how this might be delivered.
  • In February 2018, it published a paper on Trade Policy: the issues for Wales (PDF 1.67MB). It set out proposals for the inclusion of the devolved administrations in UK trade policy post-Brexit and identified some of the key trade issues that Welsh businesses will face.

The External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee

The Committee was tasked by the Assembly to consider the implications of Brexit for Wales. Since its creation at the start of the fifth Assembly the Committee has published a number of reports as part of this work.

  • In January 2017 it published its first report on the Implications for Wales of Leaving the EU (PDF 1MB) . This report set out the Committee’s initial analysis of the key issues facing Wales in the context of Brexit and made recommendations to the Welsh Government about the actions it should take to address these.
  • In June 2017 it published a report on Regional Policy: What next for Wales? (PDF 1MB) The report called on the future of regional policy to be decided in Wales and for the Welsh Government to be bold and creative in designing new policies.
  • In August 2017 it published a report on the Implications of Brexit for Welsh Ports (PDF 2MB). The report consider potential implications for Welsh Ports of different Brexit scenarios and made recommendations on how these could be addressed.
  • In March 2018 it published its report on Wales’ Future Relationship with the EU (PDF 9MB). The report outlined what stakeholders in Wales have told the Committee should be included in a future relationship agreement between the UK and EU to protect the best interests of Wales. It also made recommendations the relationship Wales should have with European institutions, networks and organisations post-Brexit.

What next?

Ten months remain until the UK exits the EU on 29 March 2019. The Research Service has published a Brexit timeline which sets out some of the key events expected to take place in the Assembly, EU and UK in the build-up to 29 March 2019.

Negotiations between the UK Government and the EU on both how the UK withdraws from the EU, and on the UK’s future relationship with the EU are on-going. Both sides have stated that they wish to conclude negotiations on a withdrawal agreement and a framework for a future partnership by October 2018 to allow the European Parliament, UK Parliament and European Council time to agree final texts before March next year. The UK Government is expected to publish a more detailed document outlining its views on a future partnership in late June or early July 2018.

Article by Nia Moss, National Assembly for Wales Research Service