What does the EU vote pledge mean for a nuclear Wales?


How will David Cameron's pledge to hold an in/out referendum on Europe affect foreign investment here?

It's an obvious question, and one I asked Welsh Secretary David Jones this afternoon after he met the boss of Hitachi - the firm behind plans to build a new nuclear power station on Anglesey.

Hitachi president Hiroaki Nakanishi - en route from the World Economic Forum in Davos to Japan - stopped off to see Mr Jones at the Wales Office in London.

So won't Hitachi be concerned by the prospect of the UK leaving the EU? No, said Mr Jones. "Interestingly, he also raised the issue of stability of UK energy policy which he regarded as a major attraction to investment in this country but he did mention the issue of the prime minister's stance on Europe.

"He was considerably re-assured by the statement the prime minister made on the floor of the house yesterday - that he sees the future of Britain as part of Europe but a modernised Europe and a looser Europe and I think that Nakanishi-san understood that particular point."

Asked if uncertainty over Britain's EU membership could put off foreign investors, Jones-san said: "That is not the message that I'm getting from probably the biggest inward investor that this country has seen for many years. Clearly, he's interested in the issue but at the same time I felt he was very much re-assured by the prime minister's stance on the issue."

I suggested that by the time the new Wylfa reactor is operational, Britain could have left the EU. David Jones: "I don't think that's the case but what we are having is a debate about an issue that is of extreme importance to the people of Britain.

"I think that the prime minister is entirely right to tackle the issue head-on and I think that the prime minister's stance is entirely coherent to renegotiate our position and renegotiation will be required because, of course, we have got turmoil in the eurozone and new treaties will be required.

"And once that renegotiation has taken place then to put the renegotiation to the people of Britain. The prime minister has made it clear that he regards Britain's place as being in Europe but in a looser and much modernised Europe."

The meeting with Hitachi was private, although it appeared to go well. Mr Nakanishi left with a special bottle of Penderyn whisky under his arm, which may have saved him a trip to duty-free at Heathrow.

David Cornock Article written by David Cornock David Cornock Parliamentary correspondent, Wales

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  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    We are paying for the building of the power stations not the EU what the hell does it matter who builds what or where so long as we pay for it.

    It's a pity that Thatcher and Blair did not keep our ability to build large construction contracts, we would not need firms from Japan who record on Nuclear is not that great.
    We would not need German or Dutch contractors to build wind turbines either.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    Why would Hitachi be concerned about the prospect of the UK leaving the EU if they're simply hoping to be the successful bidder for building a new nuclear power station in Wales? The EU policy on nuclear power is mainly that competence lies with member states. Some states have nuclear power, some states don't.

    The question of structural funding is far more relevant to Wales.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    That nice but dim Mr.Cameron has stated (not quite on a stack of bibles) that there WILL BE an EU vote "before the end of 2017"

    Now we may huff and puff about this. But that is a 5 full years away, and by then there is a very good chance that Labour will again be sprinkling money around. Even more generously than that daft Mr Brown ever did.

    No! Just forget all about it

    It ain't gonna happen !

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Fundamentally, all the things that business want would give them a competitive advantage over their rivals, and would therefore be unacceptable in a common market.
    It can surely only be a question of time until business tax rates are made homogeneous rather than competitive. hen goodbye the golden years for Ireland. Whoops - already gon.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Renegotiation is NOT an option - there is no mechanism to renegotiate the acquis without convening an IGC and that will take YEARS! Cameron has allowed a couple of years at most and he is bound to fail.

    The rules are simple - either the UK is in the EU and complies with the acquis or we can invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to start discussions to leave the EU. Those are the choices...


Comments 5 of 8


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