A WLGA delegation is in Brussels this week to help ensure local government retains a strong voice in future negotiations to shape Wales’ relationship with Europe.
Falling just 10 weeks after the UK’s Brexit vote, the delegation will engage prominent EU and UK institutions and partners, as the first step in helping to achieve the best possible outcomes for Welsh communities from Wales’ new relationship with the EU.
With ongoing discussions over what shape the UK’s departure from the EU could take, the visit comes as councils seek to ensure existing and planned EU funded projects continue to deliver real benefits and outcomes for communities across Wales.
The WLGA is working in partnership with the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO) to accelerate EU projects currently in development, and liaising with all of Wales’ 22 local councils to identify further ‘investment ready’ projects that can be fast-tracked.
Commenting on his first visit as the WLGA’s new Spokesperson for European Affairs, Cllr Phil Bale (Cardiff) said:
“It is vitally important we ensure the voice of Welsh councils and the communities they serve form an intrinsic part of the Brexit negotiations, and our visit this week is an important part of local government’s participation in this process.
“Leaving the EU will have huge impacts for local councils. It will impact on the laws that underpin how we work and the way in which we deliver services to communities in Wales, as well as completely rewriting the way in which many of our big investment and regeneration projects are funded. We simply have to ensure our communities get a fair deal as part of the negotiation process.”
Cllr Ronnie Hughes, WLGA Deputy Spokesperson for European Affairs added:
"Our focus now is on the short to medium term in which the WLGA will continue to work on behalf of all councils in Wales to get the most from Wales’ EU funding in the years preceding any formal exit.
"It's crucially important we do what we can to create the vital links local councils, and Wales as a whole will need if it is to carve out a successful future outside of the EU.”
Cllr Bale is also the WLGA’s representative on the First Minister for Wales’s EU Advisory Group, which was officially announced on 9th August. The group has been tasked with ensuring Wales can secure the best possible outcome in the forthcoming negotiations and is due to meet at the end of September.