'Vital' to INVOLVEWALEs in EU membership talks.
Byline: David Williamson Political Editor email@example.com
THE UK government has been urged to fully involve the devolved governments in David Cameron's bid to negotiate terms of EU membership.
Alarm has increased about the potential impact on Wales of the negotiations with a Lords committee warning the UK government's approach is a "recipe for confusion".
The EU committee has called on the government not to keep Parliament "in the dark" and pressed for a "rethink" about how it will manage the negotiations ahead of the in-out referendum due to take place by the end of 2017.
It warns against presenting the devolved governments with a "fait accompli".
The cross-party group is concerned there is no realistic chance of securing treaty change ahead of the referendum and wants clarity about how any deal will be "legally binding". It also warns of uncertainty about the roles of the Prime Minister, the Chancellor and the Foreign Secretary.
The Welsh Government wants the UK government to "clarify their position" and warns that uncertainty or an exit would be "hugely damaging" to Wales. The peers state: "Given the profound implications for the nations of the UK of a referendum on membership of the EU, it is vital that the government engage fully with the devolved institutions during the negotiations. The government must ensure that the devolved administration are not presented with a fait accompli at the end of the process, but rather are closely involved in negotiations so as to ensure that the specific interests of the nations of the UK are taken into account."
Plaid Cymru MEP Jill Evans said: "As Wales gains from European Union membership, London's failures to prepare for re-negotiation and a referendum and the failure to involve Wales in these discussions are not something that we should be taking lightly. It is very concerning that London still has no procedures in place to deal with the re-negotiation of powers with Europe.
"Plaid Cymru are particularly concerned that the UK government will try and take back powers over farming payments (the Common Agricultural Policy) and regional funding, both of which benefit Wales to the tune of billions of pounds from now until 2020. With hundreds of thousands of Welsh jobs reliant on trade with other European Union countries, we are deeply worried about the effect of a renegotiation and a withdrawal from the EU could have on Wales."
A Welsh Government spokesman said: "There are still a number of unanswered questions about how the UK government intends to manage negotiations on the UK's membership and, of course, the referendum itself. Further uncertainty or a potential exit would be hugely damaging to Wales and the Welsh economy. We are in regular contact with the UK government and expect them to clarify their position."
A UK government spokesman said: "The government will not give a blow-by-blow account of the negotiations. We will of course continue to engage with Parliament and the devolved administrations throughout the passage of the legislation and on the outcome of the negotiations."
Plaid Cymru MEP Jill Evans
David Cameron is trying to hammer out a new deal with European Union members. Devolved governments must be involved, his government has been told <B Yves Logghe