Given that there was a diversity of views among local government about Britain's membership of the EU, the LGA remained neutral during the referendum campaign.
As soon as the result was known, the LGA emphasised councils’ role in bringing communities together and asked for a guarantee for the £5 billion of local regeneration resources currently sourced from the EU.
We pressed strongly for local government to be part of the negotiating team, in both Brussels and Whitehall, which develops the exit plan. At the our Annual Conference in July, the Government responded to this, announcing that local government would have a seat at the negotiating table.
This week we've also called for guarantees from the Government that local areas will receive the EU funding they were expecting by the end of the decade. We're keen to hear from you on any further issues that are impacting on your places or are areas of concern so, please get in touch.
Creating a cross-sector team - your expertise needed
We are working with the new Government department being established to manage EU exit. We have put on record that local government can offer much expertise and some councils have already offered to support the LGA in negotiations. We are seeking to develop a 'Team UK' with ministers and civil servants to ensure a diversity of talent secures successful Brexit negotiations. That may be through attending sounding boards or offering longer term secondments. If you think that you could help in areas of EU expertise, please register your interests with us via your chief executive or leader. Government officials have already signalled a willingness to draw upon local government expertise.
Developing our negotiating strategy
In the short term, we need to prepare the focus of our negotiations strategy which ensures that the key concerns of local government shape the UK’s exit plans. Below we have detailed the areas where we are currently focusing and we would be keen to hear your key concerns about any gaps:
- Local economic development: We need to ensure that the £5 billion of expected regeneration investment from EU funds to localities to 2020 is secured and to start the discussions with relevant departments to secure a UK regional aid programme from 2021 of equal value. We will need to redefining state-aid rules which have to date been defined in Brussels.
- Disentangling councils’ legal base: We need to develop a new legal framework for local government services which are currently based on EU laws. Our current thinking is that this work should include environmental policy, air pollution, energy, waste, workforce and employment, procurement, state aid, regional policy, regulatory services, VAT and data protection. Importantly, we need to ensure that repatriated laws and regulation are not centralised in Whitehall but are more appropriately transferred from Brussels to localities so that we can localise services where it makes sense to do so.
- The LGA is currently mapping out those aspects of local government service delivery that have origins in EU law or regulation and our initial research will follow in a future edition of this bulletin.
- Constitutional reform: The referendum has already started a constitutional debate. The LGA has always championed English devolution and the importance of devolution below the Welsh Assembly to councils in Wales. As the UK’s constitutional framework is reviewed, our voice in this debate will be important and there is the opportunity to seek a debate on the entrenchment of local government within our new constitutional settlement.
Wider place representation: Our role at the negotiation table needs to reflect councils' wider role as the voice of local communities and we need to register and champion that differing localities have different needs.
statement on 'leave' vote in the EU referendum
must have leading role in EU exit negotiations
risk to EU funding billions and Brexit uncertainty, councils warn
the European Union
and local government
the EU: Parliament’s role in the process
referendum: impact of an EU exit in key UK policy areas
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