Wales' future relationship with Europe

After the Brexit negotiations between the European Union and the UK Government moved to discussions on a transition period and the framework for the future relationship, the External Affairs Committee launched an inquiry into what Wales needs from negotiations between.


The External Affairs Committee’s first phase of work, running from July 2016 to January 2017, focused on identifying the implications for Wales of leaving the European Union.

Subsequent inquiries into regional policy and Welsh ports have developed some of the more practical themes raised in this first inquiry and the Committee’s work on the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill has advanced many of the intra-UK constitutional issues identified.

In January 2017, the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru published a joint White Paper, Securing Wales’ Future (PDF, 2.83MB). This set out their position on withdrawal from the European Union. The UK Government has, on several occasions, iteratively set out its view on the relationship it would like to see the UK have with the European Union after exit.

At the meeting of the European Council on 14 December 2017, the EU27 leaders agreed that sufficient progress has been achieved in the first phase of the Brexit negotiations.

On this basis, they adopted the draft guidelines to move to the second phase of negotiations where they will also start discussions on a transition period and the framework for the future relationship.

In light of these developments, the Committee agreed to launch and inquiry into Wales’s future relationship with the European Union. In terms of its approach, the Committee agreed to consolidate the work it has done to date and augment it with current stakeholder positions.

This is to enable effective scrutiny of the Welsh Government’s input into the negotiations and to ensure that the issues of most importance to Wales are being adequately represented in the negotiations.

Terms of reference

To assess the Welsh Government’s position, as expressed in its White Paper Securing Wales’ Future (PDF, 2.83MB) (January 2017), against the Committee’s work to date; the UK Government’s position; progress in the Article 50 negotiations; and stakeholder evidence.

This assessment included consideration of what formal relationships Wales can have with the European Union after the UK’s exit.


  • To identify the most essential aspects of the UK’s future relationship with the European Union from a Welsh perspective;
  • To ensure that the issues of most importance to Wales are being adequately represented in the negotiations; and
  • To identify opportunities for continued engagement with the European Union and its institutions after Brexit.


Evidence gathering


Monday 29 January, the Committee held an event (PDF,633KB) that brought together stakeholders from a variety of sectors to discuss the priorities for Wales’ relationship with the European Union after departure. 


Monday 5 March, the Committee held a scrutiny session with the Cabinet Secretary for Finance discussing Wales’ future relationship with the European Union.


Report – part one


The Committee published its report: Wales’ future relationship with Europe (PDF, 9MB) on Tuesday 27 March.


On the day the report was published, David Rees AM, Chair of the Committee, said:


“Our report isn’t a shopping list of what should be in and out of that future agreement. It represents the concerns that we, and many of our stakeholders, have about the implications for Wales should these issues not be reflected in that post Brexit relationship with the EU.


We expect UK Ministers to take into account the implications for each constituent member of the UK when negotiating on the post Brexit relationship, including the matters raised in this report, to ensure that we achieve a Brexit that works for all.”


Response to the report


On 16 May the Welsh Government laid its response (PDF, 221KB) to part one of the report: Wales’ future relationship with Europe (PDF, 9MB). The report and response was debated in Plenary on Wednesday 23 May. Watch the debate on


Part two of the inquiry, Wales’ future relationship with Europe and the World, began in June 2018.

Keeping in touch

If you'd like to know more about the work of the External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee, please view its homepage, follow its Twitter account or contact the team that supports the Committee at

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Business type: Committee Inquiry

Reason considered: Senedd Business;

First published: 22/12/2017





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