Brexit threatens to quash plans to bring high-quality internet to public spaces across Wales
The European Parliament today backed a scheme to bring WiFi connectivity to public spaces such as parks, squares and public buildings across Europe. The agreement, dubbed WiFi4EU, will bring high-quality internet to 6000-8000 communities across Europe.
Labour MEP for Wales Derek Vaughan said he was pleased to see the Parliament vote in favour of the initiative, but is worried that Brexit will mean Wales misses out.
“All Welsh people should have access to good-quality WiFi connections, no matter where they live or how much they earn.
“This project would allow local communities to set up in state-of-the-art infrastructure in train stations, parks, libraries, hospitals or any other public spaces and would benefit both residents of and visitors to local communities across Wales.
“Wales would benefit hugely from this initiative, but Brexit may render us ineligible.
“This is just one example of what we stand to lose due to Brexit. Farmers stand to lose millions in CAP funds, universities stand to lose millions in research funding, Wales will lose EU funding for infrastructure, not to mention EU protections for workers’ rights and women’s rights.
“That’s why the Tory Government has been stalling on providing details about the negotiations and exactly what they expect from any deal with the EU post Brexit. They know any deal will be worse than what we have now.”
The first call for projects is expected to be launched towards the end of 2017 or early 2018.
Brexit threatens to quash plans to bring high-quality internet to public spaces across Wales The European Parliament today backed a scheme to bring WiFi connectivity to public spaces such as...
It is welcome that in that last year all of the major political parties have come to embrace the need for a proactive industrial strategy. Unfortunately, this has come because leaving the European Union, a huge hi-tech market place of 500 million people, now means that without Government intervention British manufacturing may suffer greatly without access to the Single Market and the customs union.
News that Nissan is investing in its plant in Sunderland is excellent. Seven thousand jobs are at that plant and a further 30,000 jobs in the local supply chain. However, Nissan has been clear that they will stay if the Government will guarantee tariff free access to the Single Market or compensate them if tariffs are imposed. The Government says that may be able to get this access for specific industries, but the President of the Commission has said that he will not let the UK treat the Single Market like a “buffet”, suggesting there will not be opt-ins for individual industries. The upshot of this is that the Government may end up being in a position of paying Nissan’s tariffs for it. Which means that money that could be spent on teaching our kids, treating our elderly and defending our country will go to Nissan’s HQ in Tokyo. It also raises the question about whether this approach is sustainable, realistically the Government will not be able to do this for every business. We know that companies do not think that is a risk worth taken after the reduction of the number of engines made in the Ford plant in Bridgend down to 125,000 from 250,000 previously, showing that they are reducing their reliance on the UK. We need to make sure Airbus remain committed, not just for the next few years but for decades to come, with their factory in Broughton.
The most likely outcome of a chaotic Brexit where we do not get the deal we need is steady decline. The big companies based here will slowly reduce their plants and reliance on a UK base will transfer to EU countries where they can boost their profit margins. The Government will try and stave this off with sweetheart deals that will be very expensive to the taxpayer, this will ensure that a few companies stay, but these will become more and more difficult to hold on to and the EU may begin to feel that our state help is undercutting EU industry and begin to raise tariffs.
By staying in the Single Market and creating a proactive industrial strategy we would avoid this problem and be able to build a manufacturing base in the UK that not only survives but thrives.
It is welcome that in that last year all of the major political parties have come to embrace the need for a proactive industrial strategy. Unfortunately, this has come because...
Even with everything that is happening in the UK at the moment my work in the European Parliament continues. This is for the simple reason that while the UK continues to pay into the EU budget and while Wales still receives EU funding it is important that there are people in the Parliament who can go in to bat for Wales, even as we negotiate the process of leaving.
So, it was a pleasure to vote for a proposal that will allow young people to access a transcontinental railcard free of charge. This will provide an opportunity for young people, whatever their background, to travel across the continent. This is a simple proposal with a small cost that will help young people all over Europe travel and expand their horizons.
All over Europe there is so much to see and do, from the streets of Lisbon to the islands of Stockholm, and people often say they wished that they’d travelled more in their lives. This is the European Union offering something tangible to every single young person. Given the timescales it is unlikely we will see the benefit, but you must vote for a proposal on its merits rather than out of spite.
This pass will be on top of the other benefits that the EU has provided to young people, through the Erasmus+ scheme which allows students to easily arrange exchanges and presents other funding opportunities.
Universities also gained massively from the EU, with every University in Wales being involved either in an EU funded project or having had EU funding invested in their infrastructure. For instance, the backing the EU has given to the Menai Science Park linked to Bangor University. The EU has also invested in the young people of Wales who do not go to Universities, EU funding underwriting 100,000 apprenticeships.
We would do well to remember that while we voted to leave as a whole. Young people, our future, voted to remain. The Government needs to make good on its promise to underwrite the funding they benefit from. But, that pledge also raises questions. Where is the money going to come from? Will the Assembly have to cover this funding, and if so will it have to get a corresponding increase in its budget? How is the actual process going to work? I would add these questions to the 170 questions that Labour have submitted to the Brexit Secretary David Davies. It seems unlikely that the Government will be able to answer any of them, any time soon.
With the pound collapsing and household items missing from shop shelves the only thing that is clear is that this is a shambolic Brexit, and young people along with everyone else are paying the price.
Even with everything that is happening in the UK at the moment my work in the European Parliament continues. This is for the simple reason that while the UK continues...