The Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action (NICVA), Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) and Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA) have today issued a joint statement recommending that the UK remain in the Single Market and Customs Union.
While the key recommendation is for the UK to remain in the Single Market and Customs Union, it also calls for:
- A sufficient transition period to minimise confusion and uncertainty
- Greater transparency and scrutiny with decisions that affect civil society
- No regression on human and environmental rights and protections post Brexit
- The maintaining of EU connections for UK civil society
It also makes a number of recommendations on funding, stating:
“Funds repatriated from the EU must continue to be ring-fenced for the key social policy themes such as social cohesion, combating poverty, social inclusion, rural community-led development, employability and the environment. Funding should be distributed based on need and respect the devolved nations. New funding streams should continue to follow long term cycles and be designed and delivered in true partnership with civil society organisations.
“There should be a UK-wide process, with full participation across the devolved nations, reviewing the financial and policy implications of the withdrawal, post 2020, of current levels and types of Structural Funds support across the UK and an equally inclusive process of assessing need and designing appropriate local, regional and devolved national domestic UK social, economic and environmental funding programmes”
The Chief Executives of all three organisations commented on the issuing of the statement.
Lucy McTernan, Acting Chief Executive of SCVO, said:
“Many of the people third sector organisations represent fear a weakening of the rights and protections they currently enjoy as EU citizens and worry their voices will not be heard in negotiations. We believe that the UK needs to stay in both the single market and the customs union, to keep the economy strong, ensure free movement of people, secure important funding, maintain hard won rights and allow us to continue building partnerships and learning from our friends and colleagues across the continent.”
Seamus McAleavey, Chief Executive of NICVA said:
“This crucial next phase of the Brexit negotiations will have major implications for the lives of everyone in Northern Ireland and the over 30,000 people who cross the border daily to work, study, do business, and access health and other services. It is vital that solutions are found to ensure no hardening of borders on the island or with Great Britain and which do not undermine the peace, stability and co-operation brought about by the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts.”
Ruth Marks, Chief Executive of WCVA said:
“Once the UK officially leaves the EU, it is important that principles are adhered to so as to preserve the rights and opportunities for learning and working abroad to which we are accustomed, as well as access to the single market, and funding to enable the UK to keep pace with developments in our neighbouring countries. Whilst each devolved nation will have its own domestic concerns over Brexit, it is important that we work together as a sector to better engage with and positively influence the crucial debates that lie ahead.”
UK Fundraising asked NCVO for its comments, and it added:
“We completely agree that it’s essential we get the best possible deal for the economy, avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland and also prevent any weakening of regulation that protects people or the environment. We’ve made our views on this very clear to the government. These proposals would be an effective way of securing those objectives but there may be others too, and we’re continuing to press the government to ensure they deliver the best outcomes for the sector.”
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