Wales' future relationship with Europe

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



The External Affairs and Additional Legislations Committee’s first phase of work, running from July 2016 to January 2017, had focused on identifying the implications for Wales of leaving the European Union. Subsequent inquiries into regional policy and Welsh ports had developed some of the more practical themes raised in this first inquiry, and the Committee’s work on the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill had 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. This set out their position on withdrawal from the European Union. The UK Government had, on several occasions, iteratively set out its view on the relationship it would like to have seen 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 would also start discussions on a transition period and the framework for the future relationship. In light of these developments, the Committee agreed to launch an inquiry into Wales’s future relationship with the European Union.


In terms of its approach, the Committee agreed to consolidate the work it had done to date and augment it with current stakeholder positions. This was to enable effective scrutiny of the Welsh Government’s input into the negotiations and to ensure that the issues of most importance to Wales were 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 (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 could 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


On 29 January 2018, 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. 


On 5 March 2018, 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: Part one: a view from Wales on 27 March 2018.


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 2018 the Welsh Government laid its response to the report. The report and response were 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.

Business type: Committee Inquiry

Reason considered: Senedd Business;

Status: Complete

First published: 22/12/2017