State of the Union
It was heartening to hear President Junker note, in his State of the Union speech last week, that unemployment in the EU is at a nine-year low and the EU’s international partners continue to line-up to sign trade deals with the EU.
I was also pleased to hear the EU will continue to fight for workers’ rights. Junker stated clearly that all workers should earn the same pay, for the same work, in the same place. He also noted reforms which have been implanted, including handing back powers where it makes more sense for national governments to deal with projects.
However, the message to the UK was that the EU is moving on and will not be consumed by Brexit. Other EU leaders have been ready to talk for months, but not the Tory government. This is worrying for Wales and the UK.
Frustratingly, we are still yet to get a clear explanation from Theresa May as to what she expects from Brexit talks or what her negotiating position will be. Meanwhile, the Tory Government is in chaos. A senior member of the PMs ministerial team has gone behind her back and used incorrect figures to garner support for his plan for a hard Brexit to such an extent that the head of the Office for National Statistics has publicly rebuked him. This, with a low pound, inflation rising and this week yet another industry, this time car manufacturers, expressing their frustrations at the government’s inability to communicate about or manage Brexit negotiations.
The Labour Party has adopted a firmer position on the single market and the customs union, we realise that leaving would be economically catastrophic for Wales and the UK. I strongly believe whatever the final deal is, all options should be kept open including a public vote on the deal.
In other news, the European Parliament backed a scheme to bring WiFi connectivity to public spaces in 6000-8000 communities across Europe.
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. It would benefit both residents of and visitors to local communities across Wales, 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.
It is the 30-year anniversary of Erasmus. The European Parliament is already discussing the follow-up programme after 2020. Erasmus+ opens doors to new opportunities for young people across Wales – opportunities that will enhance their career opportunities and develop their ability to work in today’s global economy. The programme also helps our schools, colleges and universities develop partnerships in Europe and share best practice. Sadly, the existence of the scheme post Brexit in the UK is not certain. If the scheme was scrapped in the UK it would affect over 15,000 British students.
If you have an EU related query or are concerned about Brexit’s impact on you, email my team and I at firstname.lastname@example.org