Wales needs full access to single market says Carwyn Jones
First Minister Carwyn Jones says Wales needs “full and unfettered access” to the European single market, as he flies to Norway to learn about its EU links.
The visit comes as UK ministers prepare for Brexit negotiations.
Although not an EU member, Norway pays for full access to the European single market, accepts most EU laws and allows EU citizens to live and work there.
Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies denied the UK could have full market access and control immigration.
Mr Jones said keeping Wales’ “full and unfettered” access to the single market after Brexit was his top priority.
Norway is exempt from EU rules on agriculture, fisheries, justice and home affairs but has no say over how the rules of the single market are created.
Speaking before leaving Cardiff, Mr Jones said he would spend the next three days meeting Norwegian firms and ministers responsible for trade and relations with the EU.
“The UK is Norway’s largest export market, accounting for 20% of the country’s exports, while 80% of their total exports remain within the EU due to their access to the single market,” he said.
Mr Jones said Wales “first and foremost” needed “continued full and unfettered access to the European single market”.
“Wales has attracted investment from hundreds of international companies on the basis of access to the single market,” he said.
“Failure to maintain full access, free of tariffs and non-tariff barriers to trade post-Brexit could make sustaining and securing investment more difficult.”
In November, the first minister told AMs that maintaining access to Europe’s single market without extra costs was a more important issue than immigration.
Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies claimed Mr Jones had accepted that immigration was a key factor in the vote for Brexit.
“It is widely accepted on both sides of the channel that you cannot have unfettered access to the single market without accepting the free movement of people,” he said.
“Yet the first Minister is currently making access an absolute red line, whilst simultaneously claiming to accept the need for the repatriation of immigration controls.”
“He cannot have his cake and eat it.
“Instead of chasing headlines, the Welsh Government should be focused on working with the UK government to achieve the best possible deal for Wales.”
Source: BBC News Europe