Here’s the text of the letter which First Minister Carwyn Jones has sent to David Cameron in the wake of the Prime Minister’s EU veto. He’s also called for an early meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee.
I am concerned at the apparently new position of the UK in the European Union following your meeting in Brussels last week. My fear is that the UK will be isolated at the margins at a time when we should be at the centre of Europe driving economic debate forward. I believe this fundamentally threatens Wales’ national interest.
At a time of European economic crisis, from which Britain is manifestly not immune, the UK is deprived of a strong voice at the centre of debate. The economic interests of Wales, and the UK more widely, lie clearly in the European Union. Some 50% of exports from Wales are to the European Union and we have vital rural interests to protect through the Common Agricultural Policy while the Structural Funds play a vital part in our economic development strategy. Disengagement from the EU, or a weakening of the UK’s position within it, is absolutely not in Wales’ national interest.
The approach taken at last week’s meeting in Brussels seems to have focussed narrowly on the interests of the financial services industry in London (though even on this basis, it’s not entirely evident how the long term interests of the City will be protected by reduced British influence at EU level). Manufacturing is vital to the economy in Wales and should be considered at least as important as financial services at a UK level. The interests of the manufacturing sector in Wales are clearly not served by a lessening of UK influence in our primary market place.
Since devolution began the Welsh Government has consistently sought to work constructively with the UK Government in pursuit of those interests which, though devolved, are shaped by decisions made at EU level. For the most part that co-operation has been positive, even where there has been disagreement on the desired outcomes. For the first time, I am now seriously concerned about whether the interests of Wales can be advanced effectively in Europe by the UK Government. For those of us who are committed to the United Kingdom, and the place of the UK within the European Union, this is a deeply concerning position to be in.