Following separate letters to the Prime Minister last week setting out concerns about the effect on Wales and Scotland of David Cameron’s approach to the EU, Carwyn Jones and Alex Salmond have this afternoon sent the following letter:
The Rt. Hon. David Cameron MP
10 Downing Street
21 December 2011
Thank you for your letter of 19 December. The First Minister of Wales awaits a response.
We have written to you separately, but wanted to show the strength of our mutual feeling regarding the exclusion of the devolved administrations from policy development and decision-making on issues of direct interest to our administrations, in particular with regard to European matters, many of which are devolved.
As you know, given the potentially serious impact of using the UK veto, we remain deeply concerned that the UK Government did so without consulting the devolved administrations. Issues of prime importance to the devolved administrations are frequently discussed in Brussels and we were not sufficiently sighted to be able to manage the potential consequences and risks of the UK’s recent policy decisions.
Since devolution began, we have consistently sought to work constructively with the UK Government in pursuit of those interests which 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.
However, in this instance, the UK Government has failed to follow the principles of communication and consultation set out in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the UK Government and the Devolved Administrations and the related Concordats on the Coordination of EU Policy Issues. We have seen suggestions that the UK position was agreed through the UK Cabinet Sub-Committee on Europe, but again we were not consulted.
This is despite “Priorities for the December European Council” being on the agenda for the last Joint Ministerial Committee (Europe) on 21 November.
It is vital for our administrations to play a continuing constructive role in the development of the UK’s policy on, and interaction with, the EU. We have two requests which we feel would enable the devolved administrations to play such a role:
- We reiterate our call to you to convene and chair an extraordinary meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee to allow all four administrations to discuss the full implications of your action at the December European Council and the next steps; and
- We would request that the invitation to devolved administrations to attend the Darroch-Cunliffe (soon to be Cunliffe-Rogers) meetings be reinstated, as was the practice prior to 2008.
We hope that you can agree to these means to a more collaborative approach to our interests in Europe.
ALEX SALMOND CARWYN JONES