Western Mail Country & Farming Column
June 20th 2017

The formal negotiations of the UKís leaving of the European Union began yesterday in Brussels. Given the current state of UK politics: the election that didnít quite go as planned and the tide turning strongly against a hard Brexit, there is uncertainty about the outcome. This the biggest constitutional change in generations so we have to do all in our power now to influence the talks. If the UK doesn't have answers, we do.

My job is to ensure Wales has a voice, which is why I have promoted the Plaid Cymru/Welsh Government White Paper which demands continuing unfettered access for farmers, manufacturers and others to the Single Market.

I know from my postbag and inbox what people are most concerned about. The Welsh economy and jobs come out on top, of course. But to many in Wales, identity is important too. Like me, many feel strongly Welsh European.

That is why I commissioned a study that I am launching today on the possibilities for an associate EU citizenship after the UK leaves the EU.

The study was carried out by a team of Swansea University researchers, and explores the possible ways forward on this, on how an agreement that protects the EU citizenship of UK citizens, as well as considering a new status of Ďassociate citizenshipí. The report has a specifically Welsh angle, examining how the Welsh Government could use its powers to protect the rights of citizens.

The report has five key conclusions on protecting EU citizenship and related rights after leaving the EU:

  • Continued EU citizenship is possible under European and International law.
  • This could be achieved through EU legislation and the withdrawal agreement between the UK and EU.
  • No revision of the EUís treaties would be needed for this.
  • UK citizenship law is flexible and accepts the principle that people should not be stripped of citizenship against their will.
  • Devolution brings particular responsibilities for the Welsh Government to protect EU citizenship for Welsh citizens.
I believe that protecting peopleís rights should come first in the negotiations. I am very proud of the work done in Swansea and I will be meeting all parties involved in negotiations as well as with citizensí groups and elected members to ensure the information in this excellent report does influence the debate.

For a copy of the report, please contact contact@jillevansmep.cymru.

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Photo: Jill Evans