Press release /Datganiad i’r wasg

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 Wednesday November 30th 2016

North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood is urging the Welsh Government to accept the verdict of the people to leave the EU following the Counsel General’s response this week to an Urgent Question in the Assembly Chamber relating to Article 127 of the European Economic Area Agreement.

Speaking in the Chamber, Mr Isherwood said: 

“You mentioned the Think Tank ‘British Influence’, and they said there’s no provision in the European Economic Area (EEA) agreement for UK membership to lapse if the UK withdraws from the EU, and therefore the UK will have to extract itself from the European Economic Area separately to its departure from the EU itself. 

“However, Professor of European Law at the University of Cambridge, Kenneth Armstrong, has pointed out that the UK neither signed nor ratified the agreement because it wasn’t within its power and competencies - it was within the EU power and competencies - and therefore, once the UK was outside the EU, the agreement would only be enforceable for very limited purposes. On what legal grounds, therefore, would you challenge the UK Government position, which has been stated, which is that the UK is party to the EEA agreement only in its capacity as an EU member state, and once the UK leaves the EU it will automatically cease, therefore, to be a member of the EEA?”

The Counsel General replied: “You’ve raised the valid counterpart of the argument that has been put as the reason why a judicial review pre-action protocol letter has actually been sent to the UK Government. So, the first thing we need to know is what the actual UK Government’s response is to that. As I understand the chronology of events, we left EFTA in 1973, when we joined the European Union. The European Economic Area Agreement was agreed in 1992 and came into effect in 1994. It has the unusual provision in that not only does it of course include the signing of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway - the EFTA states - but it also includes the European Union as a signatory as well as every individual state. Whether that is a legal anomaly or whether it raises constitutional issues I think will depend on a number of matters, one part of which may be determined as a result of the article 50 Supreme Court hearing in respect of the constitutional issue in respect of process. But the issues that are raised we will give consideration to when we know clearly what the UK Government's position is.”

Mr Isherwood added: “It is regrettable that this Welsh Government jumps on any Brexit-damaging bandwagon, rather than accepting the verdict of the people and working positively to secure the best interest of Wales.”