Brexit Update

22 March 2017

Article by Nigel Barwise, National Assembly for Wales Research Service

Darllenwch yr erthygl yma yn Gymraeg | View this post in Welsh

The Research Service publishes a fortnightly Brexit update, for the Assembly’s External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee, on the latest government, parliament, EU and other relevant announcements and reports on Brexit.

See the Assembly website for the latest update (PDF, 157KB).

blog-image-uk-eu-flags-003

Source: United Kingdom and European Union flags by Dave Kellam. Licensed under the Creative Commons.

Implications for Wales of leaving the EU: Assembly Committee published its first report

16 March 2017

Article by Nia Moss, National Assembly for Wales Research Service

This article was originally published on 30 January 2017. It is being reposted ahead of the Plenary debate on 28 March 2017.

View this post in Welsh | Darllenwch yr erthygl yma yn Gymraeg

EU flagsThe Assembly’s External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee (@SeneddEAAL) has published its first report on the Implications for Wales of leaving the EU. The report is divided into two parts.

Part 1 of the report sets out the Committee’s conclusions on the key implications for Wales of leaving the EU. These conclusions are based on a range of seminars and evidence sessions the Committee held with leading experts on a range of key topics including trade, public services, EU funding, higher education and the environment.

Key conclusions include:

  • Given the importance of manufacturing to Wales, the imposition of any tariffs poses a significant risk for this sector, especially for manufacturers that exist within global value chains;
  • There are significant risk to the trade in agricultural products;
  • Without careful consideration, restricting the ability of EU citizens to work in the UK after Brexit will have adverse consequences for many public services, some businesses and future infrastructure projects in Wales.
  • The most urgent issue for the higher education sector in Wales is clarification on the status of EU Citizens working and studying in Wales;
  • The Welsh Government should take a lead in preparing public services for the challenges ahead.

Part 2 of the report focusses on the Welsh Government’s response to the referendum, Wales’ voice in the negotiations and the future of inter-governmental relations in the UK. On this subject the Committee makes six recommendations in addition to drawing a number of key conclusions.

Key recommendations include:

  • That the Welsh Government publishes all the evidence on which it has based its White Paper including details of the scenario modelling that has been done across all sectors.
  • That the Welsh Government provides the Committee with a register of risks across all areas where Brexit will impact upon its activity.
  • That the Welsh Government sets-out the steps it has taken since 24 June 2016 to ensure that the maximum amount of European funding is secured and utilised before Wales exits the EU.
  • That the Welsh Government presses the UK Government for full involvement in shaping its negotiating position and direct participation in those negotiations which involve devolved powers, or issues that affect devolved powers.
  • The Committee also concludes that ‘constitutional appropriateness’ requires the Assembly’s consent through Legislative Consent Motions for key potential Brexit-related Acts of the UK Parliament.
  • The Committee notes that if the Great Repeal Bill encroaches on the devolution settlement it would support the principle of protecting the devolution settlement through the introduction of a Welsh Continuation Bill.

A Continuation Bill would restate the existence in the law of Wales of:

  • all domestic law applicable to Wales made for the purposes of implementing any EU-law obligation/discretion, and
  • all directly applicable/directly effective rights and obligations deriving from EU law

that fall within the Assembly’s competence.

The Committee sets out its hope that the report will act as a point of reference to inform the broader debate in Wales, and beyond, about the UK’s exit from the EU and will be used by other organisations as they begin to consider the implications for Wales.

You can find out more about the work of the Committee and its up-coming work on the Committee website.

Brexit Update

06 March 2017

Article by Nigel Barwise, National Assembly for Wales Research Service

Darllenwch yr erthygl yma yn Gymraeg | View this post in Welsh

The Research Service publishes a fortnightly Brexit update, for the Assembly’s External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee, on the latest government, parliament, EU and other relevant announcements and reports on Brexit.

See the Assembly website for the latest update.

blog-image-uk-eu-flags-003

Source: United Kingdom and European Union flags by Dave Kellam. Licensed under the Creative Commons.

Brexit: Views from Wales and Westminster

28 February 2017

Article by Nia Moss, National Assembly for Wales Research Service

Darllenwch yr erthygl yma yn Gymraeg | View this post in Welsh

This is a picture of an Assembly Committee room.

On 6 and 13 February 2017 the First Minister for Wales, Carwyn Jones AM, and the Minister of State for Exiting the EU, Rt Hon David Jones MP gave evidence to the Assembly’s External Affairs Committee (@SeneddEAAL) on their governments’ respective white papers and their priorities for the negotiations on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

What was the view from Wales?

The First Minister for Wales told the Committee that his priority for the negotiations was ensuring that Welsh businesses are able to export to the European market in the same way as they do now. The First Minister outlined his view that this goal should be pursued even if it means a compromise on immigration but also highlighted the Welsh Government’s proposal to link the freedom of movement of people to employment.

In relation to the border between Ireland and Norther Ireland, the First Minister stated that he wouldn’t want to see a deal on the issue that would make it easier for companies to move goods through Northern Ireland than through Welsh ports.

In relation to future funding the First Minister stated that he expected Wales to be compensated for the loss of European funding. He outlined his view that this should be in the form of an increase in the block grant and that this funding should not be subject to the Barnett formula.

The First Minister said that the UK Government’s engagement with the Welsh Government had been good and he welcomed the quarterly meetings of the Joint Ministerial Council. However, the First Minister emphasised that he expects not only for the voice of the Welsh Government to be heard but also to play an active role in the negotiations with the EU. The First Minister set out his view that the Welsh Government had not yet received a coherent view from the UK Ministers on the UK Government’s negotiation position.

The First Minister argued that current structures for inter-governmental relations in the UK are not fit for purpose. He called for new structures for making policy decisions and resolving disputes between the four governments of the UK. He was clear in his view that following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU the default position on powers would be that all powers currently exercised by the EU in areas of devolved policy like agriculture would come back to Wales. He stated that this was not the current view in Whitehall where he said there is a belief that the UK Government will decide where powers currently held by the EU will go in the UK.

What was the view from Westminster?

The Minister of State for Exiting the EU, Rt Hon David Jones MP, told the External Affairs Committee that the UK Government had not yet decided when it would trigger Article 50. He stated that the UK Government had also not yet decided whether it would send a simple letter of notification or would send a more detailed letter outlining some of its negotiation objectives.

The Minister offered his reassurance to the Committee that the UK Government’s negotiation position would fully reflect the views of the devolved governments and legislatures. He stated that the UK Government would need to weigh conflicting concerns and priorities within the UK to come up with a solution in the best interests of the whole of the UK.

The Minister stated that he wanted ‘to be absolutely clear that we (the UK) will be leaving the single market’ but that he believed there would be every incentive for the EU to agree a comprehensive free trade agreement with the UK. He outlined that the UK Government is undertaking an analysis of over 50 sectors in the UK economy to consider the implications and opportunities for them post UK withdrawal.

The Minister stated that the Home Office is currently working on a policy in relation to free movement between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

On inter-governmental relations the Minister stated that the UK Government was not currently looking at the development of new constitutional structures to replace the JMC though they may consider this ‘in the fullness of time’. In relation to the repatriation of powers following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU the Minister stated that (PDF 432KB):

It will be necessary for the United Kingdom to make a decision as to where various competences lie. We have been absolutely clear in indicating that any devolved competences that are currently exercised at devolved level will not be, so to speak, clawed back. It will be necessary to decide where powers best lie. It may be that there will be scope for further devolution, but, it may well be there will be an advantage, and in fact an imperative to look at UK-wide structures to replace the competences that previously resided at Brussels level.

These two evidence sessions formed part of the External Affairs Committee’s work on the implications for Wales of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. Find out more about the Committee’s work on its webpage or on twitter @SeneddEAAL. You can watch the evidence sessions in full on Senedd.tv 

The “Article 50” Bill: Latest developments

06 February 2017

Article by Dr Alys Thomas National Assembly for Wales Research Service

Darllenwch yr erthygl yma yn Gymraeg | View this post in Welsh

1024px-uk_supreme_court_court_1

Image from Wikimedia by Rwendland. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Since the Supreme Court Ruling developments around Brexit have been rapid.

The UK Government argued that it could invoke Article 50 of the TEU without Parliament passing legislation. It said that the prerogative powers of the Crown to enter into and to withdraw from treaties meant Ministers were entitled to exercise this power in relation to the EU Treaties, and therefore to give Notice of the UK’s intention to leave without the need for any prior legislation.

The claimants, however, argued that withdrawal from the EU Treaties would change domestic law. Owing to the rule that prerogative powers cannot be used to change UK domestic law, they said this meant that the UK Government could not serve a Notice unless first authorised to do so by an Act of Parliament.

The Supreme Court dismissed the Secretary of State’s appeal by a majority of 8 to 3. The Supreme Court considered that the terms of the European Communities Act 1972, which gave effect to the UK’s membership of the EU, were inconsistent with the exercise by UK Ministers of any power to withdraw from the EU Treaties without authorisation by a prior Act of Parliament.

The UK Government reacted by publishing the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill 2016-17. The Bill has just two clauses which state:

1 Power to notify withdrawal from the EU

(1) The Prime Minister may notify, under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the EU.

(2) This section has effect despite any provision made by or under the European Communities Act 1972 or any other enactment.

2 Short title

This Act may be cited as the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Act 2017.

The Bill received its Second Reading on 31 January and 1 February. 498 MPs voted in favour and 114 voted against. It goes to a Committee of the Whole House for three days starting on 6 February. It is due to have its Third Reading and Report Stage on the 8 February. It will then go the House of Lords.

Amendments have been tabled to the Bill. A number of these add new clauses which establish powers through which the UK Parliament can scrutinise the UK Government throughout the negotiations. Other amendments seek to place the role of the Joint Ministerial Committee on a statutory footing during negotiations to leave the EU and/or to require the Prime Minister to secure the agreement of the First Ministers of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland before agreeing the terms of withdrawal. A group of amendments would also require Ministers to seek the approval of Parliament of the terms of any proposed withdrawal agreement with the EU.

The clauses that aim to formalise the role of the Joint Ministerial Committee are linked to the Supreme Court Article 50 ruling, which held that the convention according to which the UK Parliament will not legislate in matters that are devolved (known as the “Sewel Convention”) is not a matter for the courts. The Court stated:

In reaching this conclusion we do not underestimate the importance of constitutional conventions, some of which play a fundamental role in the operation of our constitution. The Sewel Convention has an important role in facilitating harmonious relationships between the UK Parliament and the devolved legislatures. But the policing of its scope and the manner of its operation does not lie within the constitutional remit of the judiciary, which is to protect the rule of law.

The day after the Second Reading of the Bill the UK Government published a White Paper: The United Kingdom’s exit from and new partnership with the European Union. With regard to devolution, it stated:

The devolved administrations will continue to be engaged through the Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC), chaired in plenary by the Prime Minister and attended by the First Ministers of Scotland and Wales and the First and deputy First Ministers of Northern Ireland, and the JMC sub-committee on EU Negotiations (JMC(EN)), chaired by the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, with members from each of the UK devolved administrations.