Tuesday, 9 June 2015


Plaid Cymru MP for Arfon and Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Hywel Williams, speaking before today's debate on the second reading of the European Union Referendum Bill to make the case for strengthening Wales' voice in the European Union. Mr Williams will describe his party as "a critical friend" of the European Union - making the case for robust reforms while recognising that Wales enjoys significant economic and social benefits within the EU.

Mr Williams is expected to say:

"Plaid Cymru is in favour of Wales remaining in the European Union and will be campaigning for this in any referendum - on our own terms.

"Wales enjoys significant economic and social benefits within the EU which we fear might be endangered in a renegotiation which is heedless of our requirements and would certainly be put in jeopardy were we to be dragged unwillingly out.

"But whilst we are pro-EU, we remain critical friends. We want the EU to be reformed, but not along the narrow lines this UK Government apparently proposes, nor along the lines that those who see the EU as a 'capitalist club' fear.

"We want a greater say for Wales in the future direction the EU takes with direct representation for our ministers. A single market that clearly benefits Welsh business, industry and commerce.

"The tripartite structure should be reformed into a new four part process that includes the sub state government representative body - the Committee of the Regions - so that it is no longer simply an official advisory body.

"We must end the scandalous waste of the Strasbourg parliament and excessive European civil servant and commissioner pay.

"And we must prevent large corporations bending the rules to their advantage either through TTIP or by lobbying at the heart of decision making without the impediment of an official register.

"But to want an end to these things does not mean we want out. Structural Funds and the Common Agricultural Policy provide £billions of pounds to Welsh communities each year. In the event of Wales being dragged out of the EU, funds which provide vital financing of projects across some of the poorest communities in Wales - which are also the poorest in the UK and in Western Europe - would suddenly be thrown in to doubt. As yet, we know of no plans to replace this funding.

"To suddenly cut off vital funds to our farming communities would also potentially destroy most of our agricultural industry. The family farm is the cornerstone of rural life and the rural economy. And it is a vital support four our culture and language.

"And those are yet more reasons why Plaid Cymru will fight our fight to keep Wales in the EU - on our own terms."

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