Planet excerpts

Progressive EU Reform

In the lead-up to the referendum, Jill Evans MEP details why EU membership is so crucial for Wales and offers a proposal for EU reform, arguing why a more democratic, progressive EU is vital in the face of economic inequality and the refugee crisis.

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The forthcoming referendum on whether the United Kingdom – and therefore Wales – remains a member of the European Union is not just a question about membership of the EU. It is also a question about the type of country and world in which we want to live. The decision we make will affect generations to come.

Plaid Cymru supports Wales remaining part of the EU. Apart from the fact that Wales is an overall financial beneficiary of EU funding, there is a strong, positive case for our membership – the jobs created by co-working in the Single Market, the peace and stability across the continent that comes from better understanding and co-operation, and the cultural cross-fertilisation that Europe represents. Issues like combating climate change, protecting the environment and animal welfare can be dealt with most effectively at EU level.

Plaid Cymru – The Party of Wales sees the potential in the longer term for Wales as an independent, successful, bilingual nation and a full member of the European Union. The immediate focus is on maximising the benefits for Wales of EU membership and enabling Wales to play its full part in making the EU more effective.

Unfortunately, though, the simple mathematics of a referendum may see Wales dragged out of the EU against our wishes. Although opinion polls are a fairly blunt instrument, as we saw in the UK General Election of 2015, they consistently show residents of Scotland in favour of European Union membership, residents of Wales broadly in favour – but sometimes against – and residents of England much more cynical about continued membership.

It is not beyond imagination that a democratic deficit will emerge if our ‘United’ Kingdom votes to leave the EU based on a majority in England alone, that country representing more than 80% of the UK population. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland could all be in favour of remaining in the EU, but forced to leave. That is why Plaid Cymru has consistently called for a ‘double majority’ in order to change the status quo – where a majority of those participating in the referendum in each of the four areas must vote to leave the EU before negotiations take place to do so. This is a higher, but more democratic bar for change...

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