28 March 2017
Campaign group marks 60 years of European co-operation with show of support for EU nationals in Wales
Wales for Europe is celebrating the 60t h anniversary of the signing of a landmark European treaty by telling EU nationals that their contribution to Welsh life is valued and welcomed.
As a new campaigning organisation supporting the closest possible continuing relationship between Wales and the EU, Wales for Europe has written to honorary consuls to underline its backing for the people they represent. And to reassure them that Wales continues to be a largely outward-looking, tolerant and inclusive nation, following the referendum result to leave the European Union.
Saturday 25 March was the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome – the agreement that founded the original European Economic Community. Six decades on the underlying motivation behind the Treaty – to reduce the likelihood of war in Europe – must not be forgotten.
Wales for Europe is keen to remind people not only of this singular contribution to peace and stability but also the other benefits of Wales’ deep links with the rest of Europe. Through a growing number of locally-based campaign groups, it is creating a coalition of support in the interests of the Welsh economy, population and environment as well as pushing the continuing need for peace and stability in an increasingly dangerous world.
In the letter to Dr Lolita Tsanaclis, President of The Consular Association in Wales, Geraint Talfan Davies, Board Member of Wales for Europe said that Wales for Europe had been saddened by reports of animosity towards EU nationals in the UK. “We want to make it absolutely clear that we abhor any form of hostility towards our friends, neighbours and colleagues who have moved to Wales to live and work. This is totally unacceptable and, we fear, a result of a lack of understanding about the tremendous contribution that migrants make to all aspects of life here, including economic, social, political and cultural contributions.
“Wales for Europe is working to ensure that we all make our voices heard during these next few months and years of UK negotiations on Brexit to secure the best possible deal for Wales. At the same time, we are determined to accentuate the positives about our relationships with Europe.”
Mrs Helga Rother-Simmonds, Honorary Consul for Germany in Wales, welcomed Wales for Europe’s stance. “As Honorary Consul I am meeting 500-600 Germans a year based in Wales and the South West, and all are very concerned about the uncertainty created at the moment. More and more, people tell me they do not feel welcome here anymore. I have been here for 34 years and regret to say that anti-European attitudes are certainly growing, though, thankfully, only amongst a minority. Thank you for helping to remind people of the positives of being part of Europe and what we have in common.”
The letter to Dr Tsanaclis was copied to the four Honorary Consuls in Wales (France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands) whose nations were among the six original signatories of the Treaty of Rome, with an invitation for joint working.
Wales for Europe now has groups up and running in North Wales, Newport, Swansea and Cardiff with a further launch planned for Radnorshire. Members from across Wales will be travelling to London on Saturday for the Unite for Europe march on parliament.
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