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...
“Brexit means Brexit” has been Theresa May’s mantra over the summer.
As a slogan it is completely meaningless, we would not accept an Education Secretary saying that “teaching means teaching” or the Home Secretary saying that “policing means policing”. I have been clear about my position that there should be another vote on the final terms of the deal. But, if we are going to limit the damage of leaving the EU, then we need a clear plan and we need to be clear about what we want and how we are going to get it. Although it has become clear Brexit does not mean there will £350 million a week extra for the NHS.
Theresa May has previously said that we were not going to get an “off the shelf deal” and that we should not be talking about “the Norwegian model, or the Swiss model” but a special British deal. Well, we already had that and it was rejected by the voting public. The Prime Minister needs to remember that she cannot just make demands and expect the EU to accept them all, there has to be some give and take. So actually looking at Norway and Switzerland can tell us a lot about what the EU is prepared to accept. Norway pays into the EU budget (more per head than the UK does), accepts the rules of the Single Market and allows the free movement of people.
The key choice in the negotiations will be whether the Prime Minister will be willing to keep the free movement of people (at least in principle) as the price for retaining full access to the Single Market. If she is not, then losing access to the Single Market is inevitable with all of the consequences that the Labour Party and major economic institutes have warned of.
The Centre for European Reform has pointed out that if we leave the Single Market the price of food could increase by 15% and even Vote Leave’s pet economist Patrick Minford said that the best case scenario outside of the Single Market would see Welsh manufacturing decimated. Whether we’re ready to pay these consequences is the national conversation we need to be having. One that will not be helped if the Government keeps to its refusal to keep the British Parliament properly updated on the negotiations on top of its refusal to give the representatives of the British people a say on the final deal.
The Government also needs to confirm that EU citizens who have already arrived will not be deported. They staff our NHS, pay their taxes and are less likely to use healthcare than UK citizens in the EU. The EU is not about to kick out UK citizens. Therefore, let’s be adults and get these negotiations off on the right foot by confirming that those EU citizens already here can stay. Pointless posturing won’t get us anywhere. The Prime Minister could relieve a lot of fears for families right across Wales. We can’t be saying to kids right across the country that Mum or Dad is about to be deported because some negotiation in Brussels did not quite work out. I found it deeply distasteful when Lord Pearson, a UKIP representative, suggested using EU citizens as “hostages”.
We can have a conversation about immigration without such revolting suggestions and removing that possibility would send the right signal about what Brexit actually means.
“Brexit means Brexit” has been Theresa May’s mantra over the summer. As a slogan it is completely meaningless, we would not accept an Education Secretary saying that “teaching means...
The political turbulence surrounding our membership of the European Union has continued. A major problem is the lack of clear strategic thinking on what the Government wants to get from the negotiations when they begin formally after the invocation of Article 50.
The statements arising from the Cabinet meeting this week appears to indicate that the Government’s ideal scenario would be having full access to the Single Market without either paying into the EU budget, allowing the Free Movement of people or subscribing to its rules. This is completely unrealistic, the most obvious comparison is with Norway which pays more per capita than the UK does into the EU budget, allows the free movement of people and is bound by the rules of the Common Market. The Norwegians have made it clear that they would try and block the UK from joining the European Free Trade Area on terms that were significantly better than Norway’s.
More broadly a “bespoke” deal of the type that the Government is angling for would require tweaking of rules and potentially the Treaties to work, and either of these would require the consent of the 27 other Member States and the European Parliament. The positions of the 27 will be clearer after their meeting on the 16th of September. But in my view the European Parliament and the main political groupings, (our own Socialists and Democrats Group and the centre-right European People’s Party) are not in any mood to cut the United Kingdom any special favours. This is especially true after the behaviour of the poster-boy for the new United Kingdom Nigel Farage in the first plenary session after the vote. However, with European elections coming up in 2018 it may not be this Parliament which votes on the issue depending on when the United Kingdom sends notice of the activation of Article 50.
The European Commission will also play an important role in the negotiations, again the United Kingdom has little goodwill stored and the Commission is refusing to formally discuss anything with the UK or devolved Governments until the notification of the activation of Article 50 has been sent. This means that all of the current structural funds and agricultural subsidies that massively benefit the Welsh economy are currently facing massive uncertainty. The UK Government has pledged to underwrite all funding until 2020, but how smaller projects will ensure they get the money and how this will be administered is unclear. In view of this I will be having a private dinner with the Commissioner for Regional Development Corina Cretu, this will be a chance to get around the embargo on formal talks to discuss the current structural funding programmes, changes to it and possibilities for the future. I will make sure to liaise with the Welsh Government before the dinner about these issues.
Looking at the Member States, the Parliament and the Commission it therefore seems unlikely then that the Prime Minister will get the deal she wants. The key coming choice will be whether the Prime Minister will be willing to keep the free movement (at least in principle) as the price for retaining full access to the Single Market. If she is not then losing access to the Single Market is inevitable with all of the consequences that we, as the Labour Party, and major economic institutes have warned of. I know from the personal conversations that I have had with representatives from various companies that their continued presence relies on having tariff free access to the European market, which we will lose if we leave the Single Market. I am maintaining a dialogue with various companies which I continued this week in a useful and productive meeting with Ford.
Therefore, it is good to see that the First Minister has been taking material steps to prepare for the consequences of the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union and I am pleased to be part of the advisory group of experts that has been appointed to offer advice to the Welsh Assembly Government.
The political turbulence surrounding our membership of the European Union has continued. A major problem is the lack of clear strategic thinking on what the Government wants to get from...
“…jobs will be lost. This is the cold economic reality of Brexit” said the head of Hitachi who hope to build Wylfa Power Station.
People have asked for facts in this referendum and there is a cold, hard one. Unspun and unvarnished from an experienced businessman.
This is the risk that leaving the EU runs, real jobs being lost. Airbus in Broughton, Ford in Bridgend, General Electrics in the Valleys, have all said that leaving the EU would risk jobs across Wales. Why? Because, the economy needs a plan and Leave do not have one. They can’t agree on whether we would be still in the EU single market paying into the EU and accepting all the rules or whether we would be outside the single market and paying tariffs on our exports. However, there is agreement amongst every major economic organisation that Leave are gambling with other people’s jobs.
Speaking of jobs, your right to 4 weeks holiday, maternity leave and not to be punished at work for your race or whether you’re a man or a woman are all due to people working together across Europe to get these rights, and they are at risk if we leave the EU. The Leave campaign have said there would be a “bonfire” of regulation, but they won’t say of which ones. I don’t trust the Tories, Johnson, Gove or Cameron to protect worker’s rights without the EU being there to stop them. Letting the right wing Tories look after worker’s rights when they have a majority in the Commons would be a gamble (to coin a phrase) on a par with leaving your pet hamster with a python.
Wales makes an £838 million net gain from the EU budget every year. This funds projects like Jobs Growth Wales and Workways which help people get job opportunities and funds apprenticeships. 16,000 farmers get payments to help keep their farms viable, 14,400 would go bust without them. Projects like Agile Nations II which help women do better at work would also shrivel without EU funding. Vote Leave don’t have a plan to replace this funding, they’ve said they’ll match all EU funding, but they’ve already said they’d spend that on other things. In fact, they’ve already spent the money they claim we’d save ten times over. Also, everyone agrees that there would be a short term hit to the economy, this would mean a black hole in public finances with more people unemployed and fewer people earning taxes, this would lead to a £20 - £40 billion hit. So either these projects would go or money would have to be taken from schools, the NHS and defence to fund them.
Having lost the argument on the economy all the leave campaign have left is immigration. They have linked all kinds of problems to immigration in completely misleading attacks. They are making EU Citizens scapegoats for the failures of the Tory Government. The facts speak for themselves, EU Citizens put £2.5 billion more into the Government bank account than they take out. That’s £2.5 billion more a year for the roads, schools and hospitals that we use. These are hospitals that would not function without EU citizens, 150,000 of them keep the NHS on its feet. That’s 150,000 people who have dedicated themselves to helping people in this country get better, and they’re now worrying whether they’ll still be allowed to work here come Christmas. That seems a poor reward.
It’s easy to criticise the EU for not being perfect. What institution is? However, it is the best peace project in history and we shouldn’t walk away from it. We also shouldn’t risk everything on the words of some right wing zealots. Leave have been asked time and again to lay out an economic plan they can all agree on, and they can’t. They won’t tell people what regulations they plan to get rid of, meaning worker’s rights are definitely at risk. They don’t have a plan to keep all of the EU funded projects funded, putting Welsh farmers, Welsh job seekers and Welsh apprenticeships at risk.
“…jobs will be lost. This is the cold economic reality of Brexit” said the head of Hitachi who hope to build Wylfa Power Station. People have asked for facts...
We need to talk about freedom. What it means, and how we can protect it. If we look across Europe we can see that in comparison to every other continent in the world Europe is a beacon of hope and we enjoy freedoms that most of the rest of the world can only envy.
Which is why the Prime Minister of New Zealand John Key said that if there was an equivalent of the EU that New Zealand could join he would vote to join it.
In 1975 when we voted for membership of the European Economic Community the borders of freedom were clearly defined and on our doorstep. Tariff barriers and visas divided us from Europe, Franco still ruled in Spain, and an iron curtain ran through the centre of the continent beyond which freedom of thought and democracy were just a dream. Yet now in 2016, we can get from Cardiff to Krakow without needing a visa, or filling in a million forms.
Thanks to the European Union UK citizens can get a job in Sweden or Denmark with little problem (if only I spoke Swedish or Danish!) Our children can go to University in Paris, Berlin or Madrid and the EU will help them to do it through sponsored places as part of the Erasmus programme.
This all comes from the most important freedom of all. The freedom from war in Europe. Some members of the Out Campaign style themselves as historians, but they seem to have some sort of amnesia about our history.
Prior to the establishment of the European Coal and Steel Community every few decades Europe went to war, the Second World War, the First World War, the Crimean War, the Napoleonic Wars.
Yet it has now been almost 71 years since Britain has had to send soldiers to die on the fields of Western Europe. The ECSC, the EEC and now the EU has bound Europe together so as to make war unthinkable. By turning away from that we will be turning Wales away from a future of peace, prosperity and democracy across to Europe.
Peace will be less likely, prosperity harder to come by except for the super-rich, and if the EU shakes countries might start to turn away from democracy. As part of the EU we’ve built something great, but we shouldn’t kid ourselves that it couldn’t crumble away, and that our leaving would make it worse, not better. We should not take peace for granted.
As a member of the Labour Party I have always been in favour of people and communities working together, this includes the idea that countries should work together whether it is at the United Nations, through the World Trade Organisations or NATO.
Being part of the EU is perhaps the most important cooperative partnership we have. Let’s not turn away from stability, peace and freedom.
We need to talk about freedom. What it means, and how we can protect it. If we look across Europe we can see that in comparison to every other continent...
The great universities of Wales are one of our biggest strengths.
From Aberystwyth, where the first Chair of International Politics was established in 1919, to Cardiff University, where there has been ground-breaking work on the causes of asthma, our universities have always led the way.
This history of success is being backed and built on by the European Union. Over the period of 2007-2013 Welsh Universities received £183.4 million for research projects in Wales, an amount that is likely to be exceeded in the 2014-2020 funding period. That's why we cannot afford to see the UK leave the EU in the upcoming referendum.
EU support has helped Welsh Universities to invest in leading facilities and support the brightest minds which has led to ground breaking research. In the recent Research Excellence Framework Review 30% of research from Welsh Universities was judged to be world leading, up from 14% in 2008. This research also has a great impact beyond the walls of our universities, providing a technological edge for our companies, which in turn boosts jobs and growth.
Across Wales there are many university projects that simply wouldn't be possible without EU support. The EU invested almost £100 million pounds in the new Swansea University Science and Innovation campus; this will provide a cutting edge research facility that will work with local businesses to give them a real advantage in the market.
In Aberystwyth, the new Innovation and Diffusion campus is being underwritten by £20 million worth of E.U. Funding. This campus will generate research designed to help businesses succeed. These companies will boost the Welsh economy. A similar goal is being pursued in Bangor where the Menai Science Park will provide environmental and I.T. research that will develop links with businesses to help commercialise research. And in Cardiff, researchers will use the new state of the art CUBRIC centre to study the brain and help deal with brain damage and illness, again underwritten by £4.5 million of E.U. funding. E.U. students also contribute £24.1 million to our universities through tuition fees and other payments; they also spent over £70.9 million off campus in our shops and businesses. These students would find it much harder to come to Wales if we were outside of the E.U.
In Wales we have always known the value of good education. In the late 19th Century, miners in Bangor pooled their earnings to help set up Bangor University. They understood, as we do now, that our Universities are not separate from our communities, but a part of them, the success of one impacts on the other. The E.U. backed success of Welsh Universities generated £4.6 billion for the Welsh economy and generated 46,554 jobs in 2013-2014 alone. Welsh Universities are being empowered by the E.U. and they in turn are empowering our communities.
Our universities are thriving because of the backing that they have received from the EU if we vote to leave, our universities will suffer, meaning a poorer education for people from our communities who go on to higher education and less money for our world class research. This in turn means universities will be able to contribute less to our communities. We cannot forget what the Bangor miners knew, that education is the key to our future.
We cannot let our brightest lights go out.
The great universities of Wales are one of our biggest strengths. From Aberystwyth, where the first Chair of International Politics was established in 1919, to Cardiff University, where there has...
This month I have had lots of calls and emails to my office about TTIP and I appreciate people taking the time to raise their concerns and clarify my position. We are still in the early stages of negotiation, and if there is a TTIP it won’t be agreed for several years. However, this is a really important issue, and it certainly is not one that I take lightly. There are some myths being circulated about this trade deal, however there are also some issues that I am concerned about too; some red lines that I am not willing to cross.
Wales benefits a great deal from trade within the EU and also from countries which have trade deals with the EU. A recent report from British Influence shows that one in seven British jobs are directly linked to EU trade, and with around half of the UK’s exports going to the EU, it is clear that this partnership is very important for our economy.
Customs duties, red tape and restrictions on investment can make it difficult to buy and sell goods and services between continents. Getting rid of these barriers to trade between the EU and the US has the potential to boost our economy, create jobs and widen choice and lower prices for consumers. Our manufacturing industry, particularly our automotive industry would benefit from gaining uninhibited access to the US market. It has been estimated that TTIP could add £10 billion to the UK economy.
However, any trade deal we enter into must be in the best interests of Wales, and I am firmly committed to ensuring this is the case.
A vote due to take place in the European Parliament on TTIP has been postponed. However, Labour's policy position on TTIP remains unchanged. Labour MEPs oppose the inclusion of ISDS (Investor-State Dispute Settlement) in TTIP, have demanded security for our NHS and public services, and the maintenance of high labour standards and environmental protections. This will be our position regardless of when the vote will be held and I will not support a TTIP that doesn’t meet these standards.
I want to see a trade agreement that means Welsh people have more choice in the shops at lower prices and cheaper goods and services, which would also bring savings for businesses. I want to see the high tariffs set on UK exports to the US lowered, to make it easier for farmers and firms to export and grow their businesses. But, of course, any US goods sold in the EU would still have to comply with our high standards of environmental, consumer and health protection – just as they do now.
I will continue to work towards the best possible trade deal, one that has the potential to boost our economy and bring jobs to the UK, without abandoning my principles as your Labour MEP.
This month I have had lots of calls and emails to my office about TTIP and I appreciate people taking the time to raise their concerns and clarify my position....
I've been frustrated with right wing rhetoric about 'cutting EU red tape'. I believe that what this really means is cutting back the protections that EU law provides for worker's and women's rights.
I've been frustrated with right wing rhetoric about 'cutting EU red tape'. I believe that what this really means is cutting back the protections that EU law provides for worker's... Read more
Against a backdrop of Coalition Government splits on Europe and a constant drip of negative stories on the EU economy and the Eurozone, Welsh Labour MEP DEREK VAUGHAN, has called for Wales and the UK to stand firm and remain at the heart of the European policy making process.
Against a backdrop of Coalition Government splits on Europe and a constant drip of negative stories on the EU economy and the Eurozone, Welsh Labour MEP DEREK VAUGHAN, has called... Read more