Scottish and Welsh First Ministers demand EU meeting with David Cameron

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By a Newsnet reporter
 
Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond and Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones have demanded talks with UK PM David Cameron over his EU veto.
 
The leaders of the devolved administrations have sent a joint letter informing Mr Cameron of their concern at having been excluded from the EU decision process.

The two First Ministers repeated earlier calls for Mr Cameron to chair an extraordinary meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee to allow all four UK administrations, including Northern Ireland, to discuss the full implications of the current EU situation.

They have also requested the reinstatement of a standing invitation to a regular UK government policy forum on the EU.

The joint letter follows individual criticisms by both First Ministers who claimed the decision to use the veto threatened the economies of both Scotland and Wales and had implications for future relations with Europe.

Last week the Welsh First Minister said the Prime Minister’s “anti-European rhetoric” threatened to
damage Wales’ access to the European market and could harm investment.

His comments followed strong criticism from First Minister Alex Salmond who accused Mr Cameron of “blundering” his way into the talks and of adopting a “little Englander” attitude.  Mr Salmond claimed that Scottish industries could be harmed and wrote to the Tory PM seeking an explanation for his decision.

A spokesman for the Welsh Government said: “By writing jointly to the prime minister, the first ministers of Wales and Scotland wanted to show the strength of mutual feeling regarding the exclusion of the devolved administrations from policy development and decision-making on European matters that are of direct interest to their respective administrations – many of which are devolved.

“We are determined that Wales continues to be an integral part of the EU, our single biggest export market.

“This letter is a reassertion of our strength of feeling about the impact the UK government’s decision to use the veto will have on our relationship with our nearest neighbours.”

Their letter says: “Issues of prime importance to the devolved administrations are frequently discussed in Brussels and we were not sufficiently sighted to be able to manage the potential consequences and risks of the UK’s recent policy decisions.”

Mr Cameron walked out of discussions on the EU treaty after refusing to agree to new regulations for the financial sector.

On Monday the PM wrote to Mr Salmond claiming that his decision was taken in the interest of the UK.  He also claimed that Scotland “was benefiting from the credible fiscal policy” adopted by the coalition government in Westminster.

The Scottish Government said that Mr Cameron’s decision had isolated the UK and had made last week’s negotiations over fishing more difficult.

Speaking at the weekend SNP Fisheries Spokeswoman, Dr Eilidh Whiteford said:

“Scotland’s Fisheries Minister Richard Lochhead worked through the night to ease the pressure on the Scottish fishing fleet but it is clear more could have been achieved if Scotland had started from a stronger position at the talks.”

Mr Cameron has come under sustained attack from across the political spectrum over the use of the veto.  Opponents have accused him of isolating the UK and even his Lib Dem coalition partners have attacked his use of the veto.

The isolation of the UK was compounded when an unseemly war of words erupted between London and Paris over the relative debt problem faced by one another’s nation.