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Wales and Ireland publish post-Brexit relationship plan

01 Mar 2021 4 minutes Read
Simon Carbery Coveney, Minister, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ireland. Picture by EU2017EE Estonian Presidency. (CC BY 2.0) Mark Drakeford. Picture by CPMR – Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Wales and Ireland have published a joint action plan for their post-Brexit relationship.

The joint statement, which was released today, was agreed by Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney and Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford for the period up to 2025.

The two governments are looking to increase collaboration across a range of sectors, which include business, the arts, sports and community matters.

The plan identifies 40 actions in fields such as climate, sustainability, trade, tourism, education, research, culture, language and heritage.

They aim to increase bilateral political co-operation between the two Celtic nations and to build on the relationship that has already been developed at British-Irish council summits with annual high-level visits and greater ministerial engagement. An Ireland-Wales forum is planned for this year.

According to the Welsh and Irish governments their intention is “to maintain the closest possible relationship” between the nations after Brexit.

They said: “The UK’s departure from the EU has already brought change and it will undoubtedly alter and reshape the Ireland-Wales relationship in the coming years.

“That said, for Ireland, Wales remains a natural partner and the ports of Wales will continue to be a vital gateway to Great Britain and beyond.”

‘Grants’ 

The agreement also commits to providing €150,000 to support the teaching of Irish at Aberystwyth and Cardiff universities, and to provide grants for students from these courses to spend time studying in Gaeltacht regions.

Mark Drakeford said: “I am delighted, on our national day, to launch this shared statement with Ireland which underpins our joint commitment to strengthening our existing ties at political, economic and cultural level.

“Our shared ambitions are more important than ever as we both look towards recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I look forward to continuing to build on our existing ties and deepen co-operation with our closest European Union neighbour.”

Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs said: “I am pleased to mark St David’s Day with the publication of the Ireland Wales Shared Statement, which sets out our ambition to deepen cooperation with our Welsh neighbours to 2025 and beyond.

“I look forward to working closely with Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford to deliver on the Shared Statement and associated Joint Action Plan.

“I particularly welcome our plan to host an inaugural Ireland Wales Forum later this year to bring together political, economic and broader stakeholders to build relationships, to reflect on ongoing collaboration and to identify opportunities for further cooperation”.

‘Priority’

Priority actions in the plan include:

  • Increasing the number of high level visits each year, building on the Taoiseach and Welsh First Minister’s bi-annual meetings at British-Irish Council summits, and creating opportunities for further ministerial engagement;
  • Convening the first annual Ireland-Wales Forum in 2021, bringing together Ministers and a wide range of stakeholders to develop relationships, exchange policy perspectives, share learning and build collaborations;
  • Undertaking annual bilateral consultations between government officials with a focus in 2021/22 on the following policy areas: diaspora; language policy; education; housing; remote working; and sustainability;
  • Exchanging learning on progress towards implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, including on legislating for sustainable development from Wales’ 2015 Wellbeing for Future Generations Act; and the development of indicators to measure sustainability and wellbeing;
  • Sharing policy approaches and promoting joint collaboration for a green recovery from the impact of Covid-19, including at a regional level in Wales through the North Wales Regional Deal, and North Wales as part of the wider ‘Northern Powerhouse’ region;
  • Identifying and promoting opportunities for academic and student collaboration, mobility and exchange;

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