by Anthony Slaughter, Wales Green Party leader and lead candidate for South Wales Central
Less than two months since the end of the transition period, and the Brexiteers gloating declarations of having got Brexit done, the predicted negative impacts of leaving the EU on Wales are already becoming clear.
From agriculture, fisheries and hauliers to small independent retailers, businesses across Wales are experiencing problems with supply chains, added bureaucracy and increased costs. For many people, especially the young, the realities of loss of free movement are becoming increasingly apparent.
Having campaigned strongly for Remain, Wales Green Party still believes that our best long term future lies at the heart of Europe. We will continue to work to strengthen our bonds with our European friends and allies at every level and to mitigate against the negative impacts of Brexit.
While we accept that the UK has now left the EU there is much that can and must be done to build a strong and lasting relationship between Wales and Europe. Greens will continue to support and work with Wales for Europe on this vital work and we welcome their ‘Future of Wales in Europe: Agenda for 2021 – 2026’ published today. The agenda rightly highlights the vital role for the next Senedd in promoting positive future opportunities in our relationship with Europe and tackling the damage caused by Brexit.
Green Members of the Senedd will fight to ensure that Westminster honours the promise made in 2016 that Wales would receive equivalent funding in real terms to the £375 million it received annually in EU funding. The implementation of the Shared Prosperity Fund to deliver this funding must be devolved to the Welsh Government to be spent according to Welsh needs.
Wales Green Party will continue to push for the highest possible standards for environmental protection, food safety and workers’ rights. Any attempts to impose inferior standards must be resisted by all means possible by the next Senedd.
The UK government’s ideological decision to quit the Erasmus+ programme will impact heavily on young people in Wales denying them the opportunities that so many have previously benefitted from. Greens welcome the recent efforts by the Welsh and Scottish governments to explore opportunities for our two nations to re-join the programme and will work with all parties to maximise the educational and cultural opportunities available to our young people across Europe. Equally important is guaranteeing the continued engagement of the Welsh creative sector, another area where the UK government’s stubborn refusal to compromise has impacted disproportionately on young people at the start of their careers.
Wales prides itself on being a welcoming nation and elected Greens would do all in their power in the next Senedd to support all EU citizens, who have chosen to make Wales their home, achieve Settled Status.
These are challenging times with the post Brexit fallout taking place against a year of the ongoing Covid pandemic and the ever present Climate Emergency. These are global issues that demand international cooperation at every level. The next Senedd must be outward looking and internationalist and do all in its power to build and nurture strong relationships, both cultural and economic, with our friends and allies across the continent.
Wales Green Party will continue to work for a future independent Wales with strong and collaborative relations with our European neighbours, working together for a greener and fairer future for all.