Wales politics

EU veto puts Wales 'on sidelines' in Europe, says Jones

First Minister Carwyn Jones says David Cameron's veto of EU treaty changes had left Wales "sidelined" in Europe.

Mr Jones said the prime minister's decision could have a serious impact on UK manufacturing industries.

Mr Cameron told parliament his action will protect financial services jobs in Wales as well as in the City of London.

Welsh Liberal Democrats' leader Kirsty Williams said Mr Cameron had not worked hard enough for Wales and the UK by his "walking away" from the negotiations.

Meanwhile, the head of Airbus, visiting Flintshire, said he remains positive about links with Europe.

Mr Jones has written to the prime minister to express his fears about the effect of the veto on Wales.

He wrote: "My fear is that the UK will be isolated at the margins at a time when we should be at the centre of Europe driving economic debate forward.

"I believe this fundamentally threatens Wales' national interest."

Speaking to BBC Wales Mr Jones expanded on his view about Mr Cameron's veto, saying it was made in the interests of the financial centre in London.

He said: "In the past, we were a big player in Europe. We're not any more. Not being at the heart of taking all those decisions that affect jobs in Wales, is going to affect people's jobs in Wales," he said.

"We will have to abide by the rules but we won't make them. In the past we were very much in the centre of making those rules now we're on the sidelines, and that's what worries me.

"We shouldn't pander to a group of people who think the war is still being fought - and we saw that language last week when the prime minister was being compared to Chamberlain for goodness sake.

"I just don't want to see UK foreign policy, and therefore Wales' national interest dictated by a small group of Eurosceptics in the Conservative Party and one small part of the economy in London.

"We have to look forward, look outward particularly, and not become some kind of parochial country that only looks at itself."

'Bad for Britain'

Image caption Kirsty Williams blamed David Cameron for 'walking away' from the EU negotiating table

Welsh Lib Dems leader Mrs Williams said: "Walking away from the European table with nothing now leaves Wales and the UK on the fringes of the biggest single market trading area in the world.

"This means that we will not be able to exert the kind of influence in Europe that could benefit Welsh jobs and businesses."

Her comments follow those of deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, who said the outcome of the EU leaders' summit in Brussels on Friday was "bad for Britain".

Mr Cameron blocked changes to the EU's Lisbon Treaty, in part to protect the City of London from excessive intervention by Europe.

He rejected a claim by Plaid Cymru's parliamentary leader, Elfyn Llwyd, who said there were 90,000 square miles in the UK but Mr Cameron only thought one square mile - the City of London - was of any importance.

He told the Commons: "This is not just one square mile of the United Kingdom.

"I think of people working in the financial services industry in Cardiff, I think of banks, building societies, insurance businesses right across Wales - they need to know that there is fair regulation within the EU and they want those safeguards too and it's not just those industries on their own, it's the support they give to other industries as well."

'Good symbol of Europe'

Image caption Louis Gallois was visiting Airbus in Broughton

Meanwhile, Louis Gallois, chief executive of EADS, the parent company of Airbus, said the partnership between Britain, France and Germany in building aircraft "is a good example of what Europe can do at its best".

He was speaking during a visit to the Airbus plant at Broughton in Flintshire which employs 6,000 people making wings for airliners.

Asked for his reaction to Mr Cameron's decision and if he had any worries about the future because of the veto, Mr Gallois told BBC Wales: "I don't want to comment on political issues. I think EADS is a good example of what we could do in Europe all together."

The company was a "good symbol of Europe... a successful Europe with the UK", he said.

"The prime minister has visited our new facility at Broughton, and I think it is a good example once again of what Europe can do at its best.

"I think we could overcome that, and we know that the UK for us is in Europe. Clearly."

The Conservative MP for Montgomeryshire, Glyn Davies, said Mr Cameron had "done the right thing".

"I don't think the prime minister had any alternative," he said.

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