The Welsh Local Government Association has pledged its strong support for the UK to remain a member of the European Union.
The call follows confirmation that a long expected referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU will be held on 23 June 2016.
Having made a firm commitment to campaign for continued EU membership for the UK within its recently launched ‘Localism 2016-21’ manifesto, the WLGA believes that EU membership offers clear benefits for Wales in terms of economic well-being, significant inward investment and vitally important cultural links.
Councillor Bob Bright (Newport City Council), WLGA spokesperson on Europe, stated:
“There are many reasons why local councils in Wales believe the UK should remain a member of the European Union. Wales makes a net gain financially from EU membership and this vital source of funding has enabled a wide range of projects to be delivered for the benefit of our local communities. These projects contribute to the health of the economy, support infrastructure and business and provide irreplaceable local opportunities for employment and training. There have also been programmes that have given vital support to the farming community and rural areas.
”The benefits for Wales of continued EU membership are greater than purely financial. We have much to learn from working together and we are able to influence policy that is of international significance. It is a misconception that withdrawal from the EU would eliminate so-called ‘red tape’. There is a need for regulation in a wide range of settings – for example in relation to workplace health and safety, equalities, food safety and animal health. You have to have something in place and it’s wrong to suggest that coming out of Europe would remove the need for some form of control. Moreover, any reintroduction of tariffs on trade would see our goods become more expensive and less attractive in the rest of the EU whilst our imports would cost more. None of that would be good for the Welsh economy.”
Councillor Bright added:
“The argument that the UK would be better able to run its own financial support programmes outside of the EU should also be dismissed. We have no confidence that the scale of financial support that has been made available to Wales over recent years, and which will continue up to 2020 and beyond, would be continued were we to come out of the EU and be dependent on the UK Government. There are certainly no guarantees that any support would be made available, while at the same time Wales would also lose out on opportunities for international co-operation with our EU partners.
“The WLGA remains committed to continued EU membership and we will work with all like-minded partners from across the public, private and third sectors in Wales, as well as our Brussels-based networks, to make a clear and positive case for the UK remaining a member state of the EU.”