Tag: European Union

Towards a Parliament that Works for Wales

Elin Jones AM, Llywydd of the National Assembly for Wales, delivered the Annual Lecture of the Wales Governance Centre (Cardiff University) on Wednesday 6 December 2017 at the Pierhead  in Cardiff Bay.

A full video of the lecture is available on YouTube or you can read the transcript below….

It gives me great pleasure to be with you this evening and I’m grateful to you, the Wales Governance Centre, for the invitation and opportunity to deliver this lecture as another term and indeed another year draws to a close.

Difficult term

The past few months have not been easy, to say the very least. The sadness which struck the Assembly in light of Carl Sargeant’s death has been accompanied by a whole range of emotions, questions and reactions which will no doubt continue for many months to come. And throughout it all, as Llywydd, it has been my duty to ensure that our Assembly treats Carl’s family with the respect they deserve, and that our Members have been able to mark the passing of a close colleague with the dignity expected of our national democratic legislature.

I have no doubt that our small, but perfectly formed circular chamber provides strength to our politicians – both at times of scrutiny when they want to challenge, to confront or to remonstrate, or on those rare occasions, when we want to unite – sometimes in defiance, but also to express grief and pride. It is during these times that I am most proud to be the Llywydd – when our democratic institution becomes a focal point for a collective national expression. And it’s during the difficult times, that the Assembly demonstrates true resilience and endurance.

For me, a member of the Assembly’s class of ’99, old enough to recall the disappointment of ’79, this resilience continues to be a remarkable phenomenon. For some here this evening it is what they have always known and have come to accept and expect of us.

The Brett and Wil Generation

There are some young, first year politics students in the audience this evening who have made quite an impression on me over recent weeks – you may have seen Geneva, Aisha, Brett and Wil on the Sunday Politics Show recently, speaking eloquently about how we can make politics and the political environment in Wales better for the next generation. This is the generation which is ready and waiting to take on the baton into the middle part of this century – if not before.

Brett and Wil had already secured a starring role on television a few weeks earlier when they rushed over, with great excitement, to the Welsh Government’s Office in Cathays Park after hearing there was a reshuffle underway. They declared this on Twitter – I think I may have retweeted one of them – only to be interviewed later by ITV Wales. And it was during a discussion with reporter Rob Osborne, they revealed that remarkably they had no memory of any time at all when Jane Hutt was not a government Minister.
Listening to them speak, I started thinking about their ages, which I have since confirmed, and I worked out that I was campaigning as a candidate in the first ever election to the National Assembly for Wales when each one of these students – or political pundits as I’m sure they’d now like to be known – was born, between July 1998 and February 1999.

As one of those considered to be the ‘young intake’ of that first National Assembly, it is a sobering fact when you realise that you have been an elected Member throughout the lifetime of an entire new generation. To take it a step further, Wil, who is from Aberystwyth, has never ever had another constituency AM apart from Elin Jones. And long may that be the case!

This is the generation that considers Rhodri Morgan and Carwyn Jones as household names. Brett tells a funny story of how he once went on holiday in a caravan on the same site as Rhodri Morgan. To him it was a perfectly natural, ordinary thing to camp in a grassy field next to the leader of your nation’s government.

For Brett, Wil, Aisha and Geneva – this is the Wales they know, this is who we are. The National Assembly is as much a part of this nation’s identity as Calon Lan, Parc y Scarlets or Gareth Bale.

There are now three generations of Welsh devolutionists – the fighters, the founders and the future:

  • The fighters are those who spent most of their lives battling for self-government, only to succeed and then pass it on to the next generation
  • The founders are those of us who have had the duty to enshrine the Assembly’s place and status in the nation’s psyche and to solidify the foundations upon which it has been built
  • And then there’s the future, the next generation – those who want to run with it and make it thrive. And I’m not just talking about our future politicians. This applies to our future leaders in other areas too who contribute to the politics of Wales outside the elected arena: the academics, the economists, the policy makers, the statisticians, the psephologists, and the commentators. For these people – indeed for all the people of Wales, whether they are interested in politics or not – we have a duty to strengthen the core of our democratic institution.

Continue reading “Towards a Parliament that Works for Wales”

Brexit in Wales – Agriculture and Fisheries

Last week, the External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee focused their attention on Agriculture and Fisheries and the implications for Wales following the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

You can watch the full session on Senedd.TV.

As part of the session, Members and invited experts discussed their views on the priority areas for agriculture and fisheries in the negotiations on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, and the challenges post-withdrawal.

You can follow the discussions on Twitter and Facebook using #BrexitinWales.  To keep up to date on the work of the Committee follow @SeneddEAAL.

Key Issues for Agriculture in Wales


Policies affecting Welsh farming and its food supply chain are determined largely by the EU through the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), food safety and animal welfare legislation and also indirectly by the World Trade Organisation rules.

The CAP is the EU’s mechanism for providing direct support to farmers, for protecting the countryside and for supporting the development of rural areas. The CAP runs for a seven-year period. Under the 2014 – 2020 round Wales receives around €322 million of funding each year in direct payments to farmers in addition to €355m million for its 2014 – 2020 rural development programme.

The Welsh Government is directly responsible for implementing the CAP in Wales (and is required to comply with the various EU Regulations which set the legal framework for the policy). For farmers eligible for the CAP this means the Welsh Government manages the direct payments they receive.

How would the UK withdraw from the CAP? Would it be phased in over time or stop immediately after the UK leaves?

The Welsh agricultural sector is heavily dependent on the current subsidies it receives under the CAP to make a profit. This is particularly the case in upland livestock farms. The Chancellor’s announcement that the UK Government will honour current levels of direct payments to farmers until 2020 has been welcomed by the farming unions.

However, some have called for clarity on how any fund distributed after withdrawal will be allocated to the Welsh Government and subsequently by the Welsh Government to Welsh farmers. Clarity on the levels and types of any funding available after 2020 has also been sought.

Continue reading “Brexit in Wales – Agriculture and Fisheries”

Brexit in Wales – EU funding, research and Investment

This week, the External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee focused their attention on EU funding, research and investment and the implications for Wales. You can watch the full session on Senedd.TV .

The objectives of this session were to consider:

  • the implications for Wales of Brexit on access to key EU funding sources;
  • the potential impact of Brexit more broadly on Welsh Higher Education;
  • to understand the potential implications and impact of Brexit on access to finance for key infrastructure developments in Wales.

You can follow the discussions on Twitter and Facebook using #BrexitinWales.  To keep up to date on the work of the Committee follow @SeneddEAAL.


On 2 October the Prime Minister made a speech on Brexit at the Tory Party conference, covering a number of issues:

  • Article 50: the UK Government will trigger this no later than the end of March 2017. It will not consult the Houses of Parliament in doing this, asserting the right of royal prerogative, and that the UK Government will defend this position in the courts.
  • Great Repeal Bill: to be presented in the next Queen’s Speech, the Bill will remove the European Communities Act 1972 from the statute book and enshrine all existing EU law into British law.
  • Control over immigration: the UK will decide on its own immigration rules post-Brexit.
  • Workers’ rights: the Prime Minister gave a commitment to preserve existing workers’ rights enshrined under EU law and to further enhance these.
  • No opt-outs, one United Kingdom: the Brexit negotiations will be undertaken as the UK and the UK will as one United Kingdom – there is no opt-out for Brexit and the Prime Minister stated ‘I will never allow divisive nationalists to undermine the precious union between the four nations of our United Kingdom’.
  • No replica model: negotiations with the EU will not be about copying another model – Norway model or Switzerland model. It is going to be an agreement between an independent, sovereign United Kingdom and the European Union. The focus will be on free trade, in goods and services aimed at giving British companies the maximum freedom to trade with and operate in the single market – and let European businesses do the same in the UK.

EU funding

Wales continues to be eligible to participate in EU programmes and access EU finance until the UK formally leaves the EU. Wales currently receives a considerable amount of funding from the EU.

The Wales Governance Centre published research ahead of the EU Referendum that suggests that Wales – in contrast to the UK as a whole – is a net beneficiary of EU funds.

These are some of the most relevant sources of EU funding to Wales:

  • Structural Funds: under the 2014 – 2020 round Wales has been allocated almost £2 billion from the EU – with £1.6 billion going to West Wales and the Valleys and over £325 million to East Wales.
  • Common Agricultural Policy (CAP): under the 2014 – 2020 round Wales receives around £250 million of funding each year in direct payments to farmers in addition to €355m million for its 2014 – 2020 rural development programme.
  • Horizon 2020: is the EU’s programme to support research and development and innovation. Up to May 2016 Wales has secured around €45 million from Horizon 2020 for 95 projects, including around €10 million for the COFUND initiative, with Welsh Higher Education accounting for around €28.5 million of this total.
  • Erasmus+: the EUs programme to support mobility in the field of education and training. This includes mobility in higher education for students and staff, which is a high priority for Welsh universities. It also includes mobility in other forms of education: further education, vocational training, and school education, as well as youth engagement, areas where Wales has traditionally been actively involved.

Accessing EU funding

Given non-EU Member States take part in a range of EU programmes, there will be strong interest in the negotiations in considering (i) whether the UK Government will prioritise continued participation in EU programmes beyond Brexit and (ii) if it does, which areas will be on its priority list.

The role of the Welsh Government and the Assembly in identifying which programmes would be of most interest to Welsh stakeholders and lobbying the UK Government to prioritise these in its negotiations is something to be considered.

What we can be certain about is that Wales will not be able to receive support from the regionally managed Structural Funds programmes nor the Common Agricultural Policy (including the Rural Development Programme).

UK Government: EU funding guarantee update

On 3 October the UK Chancellor Philip Hammond MP published an updated UK Government guarantee to support projects receiving funding under the current round of EU programmes.

The October statement extended the original deadline to ‘the point at which the UK leaves the EU’, following pressure from the Devolved Administrations, including the Welsh Government for the deadline to be extended.

The October statement confirms that the UK Government will:

  • Guarantee EU funding for structural and investment fund projects, including agri-environment schemes, signed after the Autumn Statement and which continue after we have left the EU.
  • These conditions will be applied in such a way that the current pipeline of committed projects are not disrupted, including agri-environment schemes due to begin this January.
  • Where the devolved administrations sign up to structural and investment fund projects under their current EU budget allocation prior to Brexit, the government will ensure they are funded to meet these commitments.

The specific references to agri-environment schemes due to begin in January alleviates the concerns expressed by the Welsh Government about the uncertainty around funding for these.

Higher Education

There is consistent support from the Welsh HE sector for continued participation in Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+. Both are viewed as important elements of the international and outward looking approach of the sector. The ability of academics to move posts freely within the EU was also valued highly.

The Welsh HE sector has consistently over recent years highlighted the under-funding of research capacity in Wales as a significant barrier to Welsh success in Horizon 2020. In 2015 the Leadership Foundation published a report which states there is a shortage of around 600 researchers in Wales.

Welsh HE has underlined the importance of EU funding to the sector, with EU Structural Funds being viewed as an important source to help ‘fill’ the funding gap, and to enable key investments that otherwise wouldn’t have taken place. The Swansea Bay Science Campus is a good example of this, combining EU Structural Funds with European Investment Bank finance, and is covered in further detail below in the section on EU investment in Wales.

EU students and Welsh HE

The Higher Education Statistics Authority (HESA) data shows a total of 7,095 EU national students were enrolled at Welsh universities in 2013/14 (a 4% increase from 2012/13). The majority came from Germany (18%), France (13%), UK EU-domiciled (11%) Spain and Ireland (8% each), Greece (7%), Poland (6%), Italy and Bulgaria (4% each), and Romania (3%).

In terms of the most popular subjects for EU students in Wales, enrolments were as follows:

  • Business & management -1,105
  • Humanities – 1,691
  • Engineering & technology – 988
  • Science – 926
  • Social sciences – 688

It is estimated that EU students currently provide at least £24m to Welsh universities and the overall impact to Wales attributable to income from EU students was £47m. An EU student studying in Wales on average generates £19.7k for Wales and 0.19 Full-time Equivalent jobs. Additional impact is also generated in the rest of the UK from students studying in Wales. These are likely to be a conservative estimate according to Higher Education Funding Council for Wales.

EU Investment in Wales

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the European Union’s bank, owned by and representing the interests of the Member States. The UK owns a 16% share: the same as Italy, France and Germany. Although the EIB does invest outside the EU, 90% of loans are made within the Union.

Over the previous decade the EIB has directly invested nearly £2 billion in Wales. The EIB describes current EIB lending in the UK as being “at record levels and supporting a more diverse range of projects than many other EU countries”.

Following a departure from the EU, legal obligations concerning EIB loans already agreed in the UK would not change. However, Article 308 of the TFEU states that Members of the European Investment Bank “shall” (i.e. must) be Member States. Leaving the EU, therefore, would mean the UK would no longer be a member of the EIB.

The EIB is another source of finance to which organisations in Wales are eligible to apply for support. A number of projects were successful during the Fourth Assembly including the Science and Innovation Bay Campus at Swansea University (see below), officially opened in October 2015, which received €60m investment from the EIB. The Welsh Government submitted a number of project ideas for support under the European Fund for Structural Investment, managed by the EIB, during 2015, including the South Wales Metro project.

EU funding in Wales following Brexit  

It is not necessarily the case that leaving the European Union would result in either an end to the UK contributing to the EU budget, or receiving funding from it. As discussed in the previous blog on alternative models to EU membership, countries outside the EU that currently have a high degree of access to the Single Market (such as Norway and Switzerland) contribute to the EU budget and enjoy some level of participation in EU funding streams.

The European Economic Area Agreement ensures participation by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway in a number of EU programmes, including Horizon 2020 (research and innovation) and Erasmus + (education and training). Although EEA members are not generally eligible for European Structural Funding, Norway and Liechtenstein qualify for some cross-border and transnational programmes. No non-EU countries are currently part of the CAP.

Fundamentally, the UK’s future access to EU funding programmes – both for the current programming period (2014-2020) and beyond – will be subject to negotiations during the withdrawal process.

Next steps

Next week on 10 October, the Committee will be looking into the implications for Wales in relation to agriculture and fisheries. The National Assembly for Wales’s Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee are also looking at these implications. You can contribute your ideas on how to address the implications on their online dialogue page.

You can read more about the implications for Wales by the National Assembly for Wales’s Research Team or catch-up on our previous blogs on international law and trade and developments to date.

You can follow the discussions on Twitter and Facebook using #BrexitinWales.  To keep up to date on the work of the Committee follow @SeneddEAAL.

Leaving the European Union: Implications for Wales – Developments in Wales

Following the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union, the National Assembly for Wales is examining the implications for Wales.

The External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee has been tasked to ensure that the interests of Wales and its people are protected during the process of withdrawal and in the future domestic, European and international relationships that follow. It is also responsible for making sure that the interests of Wales and its people are represented in any new relationship with the European Union and the countries that make up the United Kingdom. You can follow the discussions on Twitter and Facebook using #BrexitinWales.



The story so far

The First Minister, Carwyn Jones AM appeared before the Committee on 12 September 2016. You can watch the full session on Senedd.TV or read the transcript of the session here. Here, he gave an update on the Welsh Government’s response and actions since the referendum result and identified their six priorities to protect the interests of Wales:

  • To protect jobs in Wales and maintain economic confidence and stability
  • To play a full part in discussions about the timing and terms of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union.
  • To retain access to the 500 million customers in the Single Market.
  • To negotiate continued participation, on current terms, in major EU programmes like CAP and Structural Funds up until the end of 2020 while arrangements are made for the longer term.
  • Wales is a net beneficiary from the EU to the tune of hundreds of millions of pounds. There is now an overwhelming case for a major and immediate revision of the Barnett Formula taking into account needs arising from EU withdrawal, and
  • Withdrawal from the EU is a massive constitutional shift for the United Kingdom. The relationship between Devolved Administrations and the UK Government must now be placed onto an entirely different footing.

He repeated his desire to see a UK negotiating position agreed on a four-nation approach involving Scotland, Northern Ireland Wales and England, and stated that one of the red-lines of the Welsh Government would be tariff free access to the Single Market.

He stated membership was not an option as this had been rejected by the EU referendum vote, but that he was flexible on which alternative model was pursued, provided it guaranteed access for as many sectors as possible to the European Market.

Developments in Wales

This week, Members of the Committee have been visiting Brussels for a series of meetings to inform their work on what the implications could be for Wales and in particular, the options for alternative models to EU membership. This has included meetings with Members of European Parliament, the Canadian and Swiss Missions to the European Union, the Irish Permanent Representative to the European Union, the European Commission and officials from Wales House and the Scottish Government.

What are the alternative models to EU membership?

There are a number of alternative models the United Kingdom may consider for its future relationship with the European Union.

The Norway Model

Norway is in the European Economic Area (EEA) but not in the EU. The EEA is an internal market providing for free movement of persons, goods, services and capital, and is comprised of the 28 EU Member States plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. This is the model outside of the EU which is most integrated with the Single Market. These three countries make contributions to the EU budget, and take part in some non-economic activity such as counter-terrorism. Though they must follow most of the rules of the Single Market, they have no vote or vetoes in how these rules are made.

Non EU Members of the EEA do not make contributions to or receive CAP funding. Although they are not generally eligible for European Structural Funding, Norway and Liechtenstein qualify for some cross-border and transnational programmes. The EEA Agreement ensures participation by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway in a number of other EU programmes, including Horizon 2020 (research and innovation) and Erasmus + (education and training).

Negotiated bilateral agreements

A number of countries have negotiated differing degrees of access to the EU’s Single Market, bringing with them a certain number of the obligations of EU membership.

Apart from the EEA, Switzerland’s agreement with the EU goes furthest to replicating the terms of EU membership: both in terms of opportunities and obligations. In return for a partial access to the Single Market, Switzerland must accept the free movement of people, contribute to EU spending and comply with most of the rules of the Single Market, such as product safety standards, environmental requirements and so on. Similarly to the non-EU EEA countries, Switzerland has no votes or vetoes on how Single Market rules are made.

Switzerland does not participate in CAP, is partially involved in Horizon 2020, and though not generally eligible for European Structural Funding, it participates in some cross-border and transnational programmes.


At the other end of this spectrum, Canada has recently finished negotiating a Free Trade Agreement with the EU – the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), which is going through the final stages of ratification. These negotiations have taken around seven years. The Canadian model involves less access to the Single Market than Switzerland has, and accordingly entails fewer obligations. With a Free Trade Agreement, countries agree market access, tariff levels and quotas for trade between them and the EU. As noted in the case of Switzerland, exporters wishing to sell to the Single Market are obliged to comply with the EUs Single Market rules concerning product safety, environmental and other standards. One of the advantages of a free trade agreement like CETA is that it includes mutual recognition of standards. Parties to a Free Trade Agreement do not, however, have any votes or vetoes on how the EU Single Market rules are made. Canada does not contribute to the EU budget, and does not directly receive funding from its funding streams. There is not free movement of people between Canada and the EU, though there are arrangements for the temporary movement of certain professionals.

World Trade Organisation-only Model

The UK, along with all other EU Member States, is also a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). In the absence of alternative arrangements, the UK would fall back on its WTO membership to provide the terms of its relationship with the EU. This is the only formal model of a future relationship which is currently available to the UK and that would not require further negotiations.

Under this model, UK access to the Single Market would be subject to the same tariffs as all 161 other WTO members that have not negotiated their own arrangements. Along with the limited access to the Single Market, this model brings with it minimal obligations to the EU. WTO countries are not required to contribute to the EU budget, or accept free movement of people. Again, businesses trading exclusively under WTO rules wishing to sell to the Single Market are generally obliged to comply with its rules. Once again, WTO members do not have votes or vetoes on how these rules are made. WTO countries do not necessarily have direct access to EU funding streams.


It is essential that Wales’s voice is heard and represented in the discussions about the future trading relationship between the UK and the EU, and that we fully understand the positive and negative opportunities of alternative trade models. You can read more about the options open to the United Kingdom by the National Assembly for Wales’s Research Team.

Next week, the Committee will hold the second of its themed expert seminars: Funding, Research and Finance with a particular focus on research and mobility and the impact of Brexit on the Welsh Higher Education sector.

You can follow the discussions on Twitter and Facebook using #BrexitinWales.  To keep up to date on the work of the Committee follow @SeneddEAAL.

Leaving the European Union: Implications for Wales – International Law and Trade

Following the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union, the National Assembly for Wales is examining the implications for Wales.

The External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee has been tasked to ensure that the interests of Wales and its people are protected during the process of withdrawal. It is also responsible for making sure that the interests of Wales and its people are represented in any new relationship with the European Union, and with the countries that make up the United Kingdom.


Every week over the coming months, the Committee will be hosting a series of seminars focusing on different issues and inviting experts to share their knowledge and ideas, and help Members of the Committee understand how Wales will be affected by the referendum decision. You can follow the discussions on Twitter and Facebook using #BrexitinWales.

Once they have gathered this expertise and knowledge they will need the help of the people of Wales – to ask what their views and priorities are about our future outside of the European Union and what interests are most important to safeguard.

The first seminar took place on 19 September 2016 and focused on International Law and Trade.  You can watch the full session on SeneddTV.

International Law

What is International Law?

International law is the term used to describe the rules that govern relationships between nation-states on the world stage. They’ve grown up by custom and practice, or have been agreed between different countries. Some rules are regarded as binding all countries (e.g. some the rules on genocide), others only bind the countries that have agreed to them in treaties.

There are a number of international courts and tribunals which decide disputes between countries, including the International Court of Justice, which has the widest remit, and of course the Court of Justice of the European Union. But there is no police force or bailiffs similar enforcing court judgments at the international level.

Countries have an incentive to obey international law because they want other nations to comply with it towards them. Sometimes, however, countries breach international law because they feel there is a greater advantage to them in doing so than in obeying. When that happens, other countries have a range of legal and political options to try to persuade or “punish” the wrongdoer, including trade sanctions and even the use of force. The EU system for dealing with breaches by one member country is probably the most highly-developed in the world.

International Trade

As a member of the European Union, the United Kingdom is currently part of the European Single Market. The Single Market is a customs union. This means that countries have tariff-free access to other countries within the union. Members share a common external tariff and the responsibility for trade agreements with third party countries rests with the European Union. The Single Market goes deeper than this, providing for the free movement of goods, services, capital and labour between members of the Single Market. The UK’s future relationship with the Single Market is uncertain, and will be the subject of future negotiations.

You can read more about the options open to the United Kingdom by the National Assembly for Wales’s Research Team.

Although the Assembly can’t make laws about international trade, and the Welsh Government can’t enter into formal agreements with other countries, the Welsh Government is active in promoting Welsh exports and inward investment within our powers for economic development. The National Assembly for Wales makes sure that decisions about Welsh exports and inward investment are in the best interests of Wales and its people.

How important is international trade to Wales?

In June 2016 –

– 1,370 businesses were exporting goods from Wales

– 1,789 businesses were importing goods in to Wales

The last ten years of statistics on trade data for Wales, up to June 2016, show that:

– exports from Wales were valued at £12.1 billion – of which £4.7 billion were to the European Union and £7.3 billion outside of the European Union.

– imports into Wales were valued at £6.9 billion, of which £3.5 billion were from EU nations and £3.4 billion were from outside of the European Union.

– just under 40% of Welsh exports were to the European Union.

[HMRC’s regional trade statistics are the main source of trade data for Wales]

While the United Kingdom is a net importer of goods, Wales is a net exporter – with export values of up to twice as much as imports in recent years.

This means that Wales sells and trades more goods than it buys in.

It is essential that Wales’s voice is heard and represented in the discussions about trading outside of the single market, and that we fully understand the positive and negative opportunities of alternative trade models.

Next week, the Committee will be travelling to Brussels to meet with officials to monitor and influence the negotiations and obtain further expertise. On 3 October 2016, the Committee will meet again in the Senedd to hold a seminar that will look at the impact leaving the EU will have on funding, research and the European Investment Bank.

You can follow the discussions on Twitter and Facebook using #BrexitinWales.  To keep up to date on the work of the Committee follow @SeneddEAAL.

Environment and Sustainability Committee – work for the Autumn term 2014

Environment and Sustainability Committee – work for the Autumn term 2014

This term the Environment and Sustainability Committee is busy with a number of inquiries and scrutiny work of proposed legislation underway. Here’s a snapshot of its work for this Autumn term.

One of the key tasks faced by Assembly Committees each autumn is scrutiny of the Welsh Government’s draft budget for the financial year beginning the following April. The Committee has held a session with the Minister for Natural Resources and the Deputy Minister for Farming and Food. It will be publishing its view, in the form of a letter to the Finance Committee, on 6 November.

The Committee is currently preparing to report on its inquiry into Recycling in Wales. This inquiry sought to look at current local authority household waste recycling practices and arrangements, including the information available to householders and how recycling rates can be improved. It covered all waste materials, including food and garden waste.

A public consultation was held as part of the Inquiry to gather evidence between 9 May 2014 and 10 June 2014 and a fantastic response was received from people all ages and areas in Wales. Thank you to all who completed questionnaires and online surveys, shared pictures of recycling in your area, tweeted views on recycling in Wales or responded in a number of other ways. Your input and contribution to the Committee’s work is so important.

To keep an eye on the latest developments for this inquiry please take a look at the Inquiry into Recycling Storify. The Committee is hoping to publish its report on this inquiry before Christmas.

You can also view the YouTube playlist for the Inquiry here.

This term, the Committee faces a heavy load of legislation, with two Bills to consider – the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Bill and the Planning (Wales) Bill.

The Committee is nearing the end of the first stage of its scrutiny of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Bill. The purpose of the Bill is s to put sustainable development at the heart of government and public bodies, with the aim of ensuring that current needs are met without compromising the needs of future generations .

It sets 6 national goals to improve the well-being  of people in Wales  of by tackling generational challenges such as climate change,  poverty, and health inequalities.

The Committee has completed gathering evidence on this Bill, having heard from a range of stakeholders and the Minister for Natural Resources, Carl Sargeant AM. The Committee is currently in the process of drafting  the  report on its  Stage 1 consideration of  the Bill. , Updates will be available on the Committee’s web page.

Read more about the Future Generations (Wales) Bill

Recently the Committee began its consideration of general principles (also known as Scrutiny Stage 1) of the Planning (Wales) Bill. This Government Bill was introduced by the Minister for Natural Resources, Carl Sargeant AM, following work by the Welsh Government into how planning processes can be improved in Wales.

Consideration of the Bill is now underway by the Committee to assess if it should become law, and to ensure that it reaches the highest standards if it does. A consultation on this Bill opened on 10 October and interested people and organisations will need to submit their responses by 7 November.

Please note that this Bill does not deal with any individual planning cases or approaches to any one type of planning, but with the processes involved.

Following this consultation the Committee will invite individuals and organisations to give evidence during meetings of the Environment and Sustainability Committee before compiling a report and making any recommendations it may wish to make in order to improve the Bill.

If you’d like to share your views on the processes by which planning decisions are made, and how you think this could be improved, please respond to this consultation by Friday 7 November 2014: public consultation on the Planning (Wales) Bill.

More information on the Planning (Wales) Bill

Most of the Committee’s time is dedicated to its scrutiny of the two Bills mentioned above, but it is fitting in some inquiry work too, when time allows. The Committee is holding a number of short inquires and one-off sessions. They are:

  • A short inquiry into the European Commission proposals for organic farming;
  • A round table discussion of animal welfare issue;
  • Continuing its inquiry into Fuel Poverty and Energy Efficiency; and
  • A presentation on the lessons for Wales from the German Energiewende.

The organic farming inquiry is examining the potential impacts new proposals by the European Commission on organic products could have for Wales.

Read more about the inquiry into organic production and labelling of organic products

The session on animal welfare will cover issues such as control of dogs legislation, non-stun slaughter of animals; animals in circuses and the regulation of animal sanctuaries.

Continuing with the inquiry it began last summer, the Committee is hearing from energy companies in relation to Fuel Poverty and Energy Efficiency.

The Committee is also taking a presentation on the potential lessons for Wales from the German experience of developing community energy.

If you’d like to book a seat to view any Committee meeting, contact the Booking Team on 0845 010 5500 / 01492 523 200 or assembly.bookings@wales.gov.uk . You can also view the Committee through the Assembly’s broadcasting channel Senedd.tv.

If you’d like to keep up to date with this Committee’s work, why not follow its progress on its Twitter feed? Follow @SeneddEnv for all the latest information.