First Minister acclaims Cardiff conference on Europeanising Devolution.
22th May 2013
The First Minister Carwyn Jones endorsed the conference “Europeanising Devolution: Wales, the United Kingdom and Europe” which was held in Cardiff on Friday 24 May. The conference brought together scholars and policy makers from across the European Union to consider questions around how nations and regions should best develop their relationships within the European Union.
Welcoming the conference the First Minister Carwyn Jones says, “I am very pleased to welcome this significant conference to Wales. Regions and nations are vital to the lifeblood of the EU and it is really important that we think imaginatively about our European future.
“The Government I lead is deeply committed to continuing UK membership of the EU and I never miss an opportunity to make that case. Wales is fully and fundamentally a part of the European community of nations and I intend that we should continue to play a full and active part. I wish the conference well.”
Organised by the Learned Society of Wales in partnership with the British Academy and supported by Cardiff University, the conference brought together representatives from four devolved governments in the EU who exchanged their experiences of the EU and regional governance in a European context.
Invited speakers debated some of the most pressing issues of European multi-level governance, at a time of great austerity.
The lead organiser of the conference, Professor Alistair Cole of the School of European Languages, Translation and Politics at Cardiff University, and a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales, said: “The conference will allow Welsh decision-makers to reflect upon financial and constitutional debates facing Welsh devolution in a broader UK and European context; to draw lessons from evolutions in comparable European Union regions; to reflect upon the opportunities available to Wales in a broader European context.
“Why the EU matters to Wales will be at the centre of the debates organised by researchers at Cardiff University. After all, the UK is not a euro member state, so why should we bother about developments in continental Europe? Such a narrow approach would, however, be highly detrimental. Europe matters for Wales in many different ways; Wales is part of the UK – a powerful member state - and as such benefits from being part of this large member state.
“But does the Prime Minister consult or negotiate with Wales on EU treaties? This is a point worth considering, and many similar questions surrounding the EU and its relationship to devolved governments across Europe will be debated on the day, from a variety of trans-national perspectives.”
The Learned Society of Wales’s President, Sir John Cadogan CBE, said: “I am very pleased that the Society and the British Academy are working together on the organisation of a conference on the subject of Wales, the United Kingdom and Europe.
“As well as enabling us to explore issues that are of great significance for the future of Wales within the British and European context, this collaboration is also very important in helping us to achieve the Society’s objective of enabling Wales to participate at the highest level in the international world of learning and scholarship, and of promoting the academic excellence and achievements of Wales to the wider world.”
Key stakeholders from devolved governments in Wales, Catalonia, Flanders, Brittany, as well as representatives of the European Commission, engaged in a round table discussion chaired by Hywel Ceri Jones, former Director General with the European Commission. Other participants in the final roundtable included David Hughes, Head of the Office of the European Commission in Wales; Albert Royo, secretary for international cooperation for the Government of Catalonia; Geert de Proost, representative of the Flemish government, and Mona Bras of the Democratic Breton Union
The conference marked the first major event organised as part of the Leverhulme Trust’s International Network on Territorial Governance in Western Europe. The network is built on a partnership of a number of universities from across Europe, including Cardiff University. A follow up conference in the British Academy in London took place on 31st May dedicated to the theme of Welsh Devolution in Perspective.