What next for Wales in Europe?

I deeply regret that a majority of my fellow citizens chose to withdraw from the European Union last week, but I accept that it was their democratic right to exercise.

During the campaign, a vow was made to the people of this country. That vow was specific and it was repeated. It included a commitment to increase spending on the NHS and a commitment that the British State would cover every penny of lost EU funding to farmers and aid to deprived communities.

That vow was made to the people of this country, many of whom live in some of the poorest communities of this continent, and Plaid Cymru will not allow them to be lied to. They stand to lose too much.

Plaid Cymru waits with sceptical anticipation for the emergence of the first British Prime Minister in history to emerge from Downing Street in September and announce a record, unprecedented increase in investment in Wales. Of course, that new Prime Minister will have to do so without any savings from EU membership, because as we learnt over the weekend, the Brexit plan may include membership of the European Economic Area, which comes with a substantial membership fee.

There is now a gap before the appointment of this new Prime Minister, which will be a crucial time for the Welsh Government to work to further the Welsh national interest.

I propose that the Government should compile a National Mitigation Plan for Wales, based on three broad strands of enquiry.

Firstly, we need to see a plan setting out the steps that can be taken within Wales to support those communities who are facing the greatest uncertainty, like the West and the Valleys who will be seeking alternative sources of aid, and rural communities who will require greater levels of financial support.

We should see a plan for the introduction of an Economic Fairness Bill so that the Welsh Government can introduce an internal regional development policy to support all corners of our nation.

Secondly, as part of this National Mitigation Plan, we need to look at changes needed at a British Isles level that further Wales’ national interest. For example, a consideration of the creation of an Investment Bank of the Isles, along the model of the European Investment Bank. It could provide finance for schemes that would otherwise be funded by EIB and also act as a mechanism for the delivery of new structural funds to replace the EU funding we stand to lose.

Proposals should be published for the immediate constitutional changes needed to strengthen Wales’ position so that we are not now incorporated into a monstrous England and Wales entity that works against Wales’ interests.

Finally, the National Mitigation Plan should address Wales’s place in the international community, including, of course, our newly redefined relationship with other European countries. The Welsh Government should gain full and unfettered access to the British State’s diplomatic network, so that a distinct Welsh voice for securing trade and building relations can be established. We should also renew efforts to attract other countries to open diplomatic missions in Cardiff as part of this process.

In next few months Welsh Government has an opportunity in which it must stand up for Wales’ national interest. I urge them to produce a National Mitigation Plan as soon as possible to ensure that Wales has a distinct voice in our new political landscape.

Whatever way people voted last week, many on all sides will be looking to the future anxiously. A sad irony of the referendum campaign was a fundamental and intentional misunderstanding of the principles of ever closer union. That part of the treaty of Rome, in fact, refers to the ever closer union of the peoples – not governments – of Europe.

My hope, against all odds, is that the people of this nation can continue to stand with the people of this continent and that the dream of Wales in Europe will never die.

Steffan Lewis is an AM for South East Wales.

6 thoughts on “What next for Wales in Europe?

  1. You state that you want parity for farmers on EU subsidies post Brexit. I run a business that employs a number of people which I established myself from scratch. By necessity it has to run at a profit so that we can all take home a wage. I don’t expect the wider tax paying base to help with that. So tell me why is it my farming neighbours, most of whom inherited their farms yet can’t seem to make them profitable, should continue to be subsidised by the taxpayer to produce lamb below cost for the benefit of French consumers ?

  2. When it comes to *Vows* and how much trust you can place in them, you could do much worse than ask our Scottish friends how it worked out for them recently …

  3. Excellent. I still don’t think Article 50 will ever be invoked as the Wesmtinster elite know it spells the end of Britain.

  4. Carwyn Jones insisted, quite rightly, in the Senedd last week, that EU funds be paid in full to Wales. That was dismissed out of hand by David Cameron at PMQ within 24 hours. Our Senedd’s complete impotence was thereby exposed. No surprise there.

    There has been renewed talk of ‘independence’ but it means so many things to different people. If we were looking for a contemporary definition, it would be the ability to act without reference Westminster, and in our own interests would it not?Had we been able to do so, then perhaps we wouldn’t have got ourselves into this muddle in the first place. Who in Wales thought a referendum on this issue was a good idea? Now is maybe the time to drive that point home as we put in place a Mitigation Plan, because we can’t trust Westminster to do ANYTHING of benefit to us, it seems to me.

  5. @Brian
    ” I don’t expect the wider tax paying base to help with that.”
    I imagine you’re not producing a product such as food which is essential to all our lives. including those of you and your workers. I’m not defending everything in the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy but subsidies exist in part in order to provide food security for you and your workers. Food security is a permanent need and therefore not something you can induce instantly by turning on a subsidy tap when times are difficult.
    This security of food availability means you and your staff have one less concern to worry about and can get on with conducting your business and taking home your profits and wages .

    ” to produce lamb below cost for the benefit of French consumers ?”
    There’s nothing stopping British consumers taking advantage of this lamb offer as well.

  6. CapM

    On the wider subject of food security I recommend this https://www.amazon.co.uk/Taste-War-World-Battle-Food/dp/0143123017 a fascinating read.

    UK Farmers (though not in Wales with the exception of ART Davies et al !) seem to not like the status quo http://www.fwi.co.uk/news/exclusive-survey-reveals-farmers-back-eu-exit.htm

    and NZ seems to have successfully grasped the nettle long ago.

    http://www.fwi.co.uk/arable/farming-with-subsidies-fiscally-unsustainable.htm

    The nation’s ill considered decision to kick the bath over is going to mean money is tight so alternatives need to be found and this has got to be a prime area for reform…….after abolition of the triple lock protection for pensioners that is.

    But show me the politician with the backbone to take on those vested interest groups.

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