Wales in Europe
Although it can often seem remote and its decision-making process complex, the European Union matters to Wales. Between 2007-2013, EU structural funding, aimed at reducing disparities between European regions, will have been worth £1.5 billion to Wales (£3bn with match funding), money vital to the regeneration of Welsh communities. But the EU isn’t important to Wales just because of funding. It is estimated that around 60% of domestic legislation has its origins in Brussels.
It’s not surprising then that Brussels is the networking and lobbying capital of Europe. All Member States have offices here to represent them at national level, as well as the hundreds of offices here representing other levels of government; for example, over 50 Associations of local and regional government are based in Brussels, representing over 100,000 local and regional authorities from across Europe.
It is vital for Wales to be involved here. The Welsh Government, the Welsh Local Government Association, Welsh Higher Education and the National Assembly for Wales all have offices here to monitor and influence EU policy that will have implications for Welsh communities and citizens. There is a misconception that the EU only has an impact for Member States in certain policy areas, such as the environment, but whilst it’s true that it does have huge influence in this area, EU decisions in a number of areas have implications for Wales, be it procurement, employment, health and social services. Even in policy areas where the EU has no legislative powers, decisions made in Brussels have implications for the Welsh Government, Welsh councils and ultimately Welsh citizens.
Being based in Brussels doesn’t just have its benefits in terms of lobbying though; it is also an ideal platform for Wales to showcase good practice, across a wide range of policy areas and to learn from other countries, in order to develop best practice further.
European Social Fund (ESF) Case Studies
National Assembly for Wales in Brussels
The Europe section of the National Assembly for Wales website provides information on EU proposals, their relevance to Wales and an update on their progress through the EU institutions.
Wales and Europe (The Welsh Government’s website)
The Welsh Government (WG)’s aim is for Wales to be a key player within Europe and an active participant and partner in the European Union. The WG ensures the interests of Wales are voiced at a European level through their offices in Cardiff and Brussels.
Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO)
The Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO) is part of the Welsh Government and manages the delivery of the EU Structural Funds programmes in Wales.
Welsh Higher Education in Brussels (WHEB)
By placing itself at the heart of Europe, WHEB aims to promote the interests of the Welsh Higher Education sector in Europe and build closer links with a wide range of other stakeholders, promoting Welsh excellence in pursuit of Europe-wide goals.
Welsh local government and Europe (The WLGA’s website)
The Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) represents the 22 local authorities in Wales (with the three fire and rescue authorities, thethree national park authorities and four police authorities as associate members). The WLGA has had an office in Brussels since 2003 which provides a dedicated resource for the WLGA and its member authorities on European issues and promotes the role of Welsh local government in European affairs.