Lesley Griffiths MS, Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd
I represented the Welsh Government at a virtual meeting of the Interministerial Group (IMG) on UK-EU Relations on 20 March, on behalf of the Minister for Economy. The meeting was chaired by the Minister for Europe at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, Leo Docherty MP. Angus Robertson MSP, the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture also attended and a senior official from the Northern Ireland Civil Service was present as an observer.
The IMG was held in advance of the meetings of the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee (WAJC) and the UK-EU Partnership Council (PC) under the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, both scheduled for 24 March. It considered the draft agendas for both meetings.
I welcomed the overall improved tone of positive engagement with the EU.
The IMG considered the planned PC agenda covering energy, regulation, security and Union Programmes. I raised the following main issues:
- concerns about energy supplies next winter,
- the importance of Wales’ relations with Ireland through energy collaboration,
- the potential negative impact of the proposed UK Bill of Rights Bill on the European Convention on Human Rights, and
- the need to come to a solution on Horizon, noting that research and development funding was crucial for Welsh universities.
In relation to the WAJC, which was scheduled to discuss citizens’ rights, I highlighted our interest in gaining further clarity on how EU citizens with pre-settled status would be treated and set out the Welsh Government’s interest in being included in discussions on this.
The PC itself was held on 24 March with Welsh Government officials attending virtually. The WAJC was also held on 24 March, without the Welsh and Scottish Governments being invited. The joint UK-EU statement on both meetings is available here. Joint statement on the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee and Trade and Cooperation Agreement Partnership Council meetings, 24 March 2023 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)