Forging Future Relationships: Senedd to host first UK meeting of the EU Committee of the Regions - UK Contact Group

Published 17/03/2022   |   Reading Time minutes

On 17-18 March, the Senedd is hosting a meeting of UK and EU representatives and organisations.

The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) is the voice of regions and cities in the EU. It represents local and regional authorities across the European Union. Prior to the UK’s exit from the EU the Senedd sent two Members to the institution.

Following the UK’s exit from the EU and with the end of the Brexit transition period approaching, the CoR launched a Contact Group between its members and UK organisations who were members pre-Brexit. The Contact Group’s aim is to preserve links for the future.

On Friday, the Senedd will become the first UK institution to host a meeting of this group. This will be the Group’s sixth meeting since its formation.

This article summarises the role of the group and its membership, including how the Senedd is represented. It considers what might be discussed at the upcoming meeting and signposts where to get more information.

What is the European Committee of the Regions?

The European Committee of the Regions (‘CoR’) is a political assembly composed of 329 members and 329 alternates from all EU countries. Members are grouped by political party and headed by the President who has been elected at local or regional level, such as Mayors or Presidents of a region.

In September 2020, the Committee of the Regions UK Contact Group was launched.

What does the Contact Group do?

The Group serves as a place where UK and EU representatives can:

  1. Continue a dialogue and political partnership, including exchanging views on cross-border issues;
  2. Discuss problems or opportunities arising from the UK’s exit, including the new UK-EU agreements and opportunities for collaboration in areas such as research, economic development, tourism and trade; and
  3. Discuss EU legislation affecting them, even after the UK’s exit.

Who are its members?

The Group is chaired by the President of Brittany, Löig Chesnais-Girard, and is comprised of representatives from:

  • A number of EU Member States including Belgium, Ireland, France, Poland, Germany, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Denmark, Spain and Portugal;
  • UK devolved legislatures and some governments;
  • The government and parliament of Gibraltar;
  • London Assembly and the Mayor of London; and
  • Local government organisations from Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The Senedd is represented by Alun Davies MS and Laura Anne Jones MS.

What to expect at the Senedd on Friday

The Group will hear from a range of high profile speakers, including the First Minister, the Senedd’s Deputy Presiding Officer, UK and EU parliamentarians and the EU’s delegation to the UK.

They are expected to discuss issues such as the:

  • Senedd’s future engagement with Europe;
  • role of Wales and the Welsh Government in implementing the new UK-EU trade agreement;
  • post-Brexit engagement between legislatures in the UK and the European Parliament;
  • The future relationship between the UK and the EU and how the relationship between UK regions and authorities and EU regions and authorities could be strengthened in future.

Other matters, such as the Northern Ireland Protocol and citizens’ rights, are also likely to feature. You can learn more about all of these topics below:

How the UK-EU make decisions post-Brexit

The UK and EU agreed post-Brexit new ways of working in two treaties – the Withdrawal Agreement and the Trade and Cooperation Agreement. This included the establishment of a joint parliamentary assembly between the European and UK parliaments. Our explainer article shows how the Welsh Government and Senedd are represented.


The Committee of the Regions held its Marseille Summit of regions and cities on 3-4 March, where there was “universal solidarity” for Ukraine. Members pledged humanitarian aid and support for Ukraine’s local and regional administrations, who participated in the meeting via a direct call from Kyiv. They called for aid “now, not in 10 or 20 days”.

Our recent articles summarise the Senedd’s response and Wales’ response to the humanitarian crisis

UK and European citizens’ rights

UK-EU citizens’ rights issues persist due to different interpretations of the Withdrawal Agreement. The UK and EU meet regularly to discuss citizens’ rights. Meetings are held at the Withdrawal Agreement’s Joint Committee and its Specialised Committee on Citizens’ Rights. The Welsh Government doesn’t attend but meets fortnightly with the UK Government to discuss the EUSS.

Our recent article shows how over 100,000 European citizens living in Wales have applied to stay.

Post-Brexit funding

The Committee of the Regions recently called on the EU to increase its funding designed to alleviate the impact of UK exit. This is a €5 billion ‘Brexit Adjustment Reserve’. The CoR called for the fund to be increased to €6 billion, and for local and regional authorities to be involved in the design of measures taken.

Our recent article explains the UK Government’s ambition to ‘level up’ different parts of the UK and how its proposals interact with devolution in Wales.


Article by Nia Moss and Sara Moran, Senedd Research, Welsh Parliament