First Assembly report on Brexit sets out “broad and complex” issues for Wales

Published 27/01/2017   |   Last Updated 27/01/2017

​The Assembly Committee charged with safeguarding Welsh interests in the Brexit process, the External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee, has issued its first report.

This follows six months of gathering expert views through a programme of thematic seminars and a first call for written submissions. This has allowed the Committee to identify emerging sectoral issues for Wales.

The Chair of the Committee, David Rees AM, said

“If there was any doubt to begin with, the evidence we have gathered confirms that Brexit raises broad and complex issues for Wales. It cuts across many areas of policy, as well as raising fundamental constitutional questions about devolution and the power dynamic between the UK Government, Parliament and the devolved administrations and legislatures.”

The first part of the report identifies emerging sectoral issues for Wales with the aim of advancing understanding of the complex challenges faced by Wales as the UK exits the European Union. The Committee hopes that the first part of the report acts as a point of reference to inform the broader debate around the UK’s exit from the EU and assists in communicating the issues that are important for Wales.

On the Welsh economy, the report finds that the imposition of barriers when trading with the EU would pose significant risks to the Welsh economy. The relative prominence of manufacturing and agricultural sectors (compared with the rest of the UK) heightens the Welsh economy’s vulnerability to trade barriers.

Mr Rees said:

“The vast majority of the evidence we received showed that ensuring free trade with the Single Market, with no tariffs and no non-tariff barriers, is of crucial importance to the Welsh economy.”
The risk to the Welsh economy is such that the Committee calls for a focus on transitional arrangements.

Mr Rees said:

“Even a relatively short period of time spent trading on World Trade Organisation rules will damage our manufacturing and agricultural sectors. This could be disastrous for the Welsh economy. Transitional arrangements must be an important consideration in the negotiations.”

The second part of the report focuses on constitutional issues and draws a number of conclusions that are aimed at strengthening the Welsh role in the process at both Welsh Government and Assembly level.

“We are clear. The Welsh Government must have a direct role in developing the UK negotiating position where it relates to, or affects, devolved powers,” said Mr Rees.

In terms of the Assembly, the Committee believes that it is constitutionally appropriate for the National Assembly to play a role and for current conventions to be expanded to take account of the development of devolution and the sharing of power in the UK.

Read the report