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Links between Cardiff and other major European cities are vital to increase the influence and identity of Wales in ...
Links between Cardiff and other major European cities are vital to increase the influence and identity of Wales in Europe, the Secretary of State for Wales, Paul Murphy, said at a conference in the city today.

'Wales' future, along with the rest of the UK, is in Europe. We are part of Europe. It affects us directly and deeply. Europe is indisputably in our national interest.

'This week, I visited the European Parliament in Strasbourg to hear the Danish prime minister outline the priorities for his presidency of the EU - concluding the negotiations on enlargement, taking forward the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy and emphasising the importance of 'One Europe'.

'Meanwhile, in Cardiff, 16 major European cities are attending this conference which aims at forging stronger links and sharing common interests among themselves. In doing so, our capital city enhances still further the reputation Wales is winning for itself as a good European.

'We are becoming a more confident nation with a more confident capital city. This new found confidence has led to the city deciding to bid for the European Capital of Culture status in 2008.

'I am pleased that the Wales Office and the National Assembly for Wales are able to support this bid.'

The Atlantic Arc Cities conference, comprising around 30 European cities of more than 100,000 population, most of which are ports, covers urban development; accessibility; culture; economic and port cooperation.

Turning to devolution, Mr Murphy said: 'In Wales, I believe the partnership between local government, the assembly and the UK government is working well.

'Clearly to carry out our roles effectively requires consultation, negotiation and discussion with other parties. In effect, we rely on close working relationships, effective partnerships that will help deliver our policies. That is the key to success.

'I am sure that all the cities represented at the conference - from France, Spain, Ireland, England, Scotland and Portugal - are committed to achieving that success and making the communities we serve better places to live in future.

'The way we do things here might not be the right way for each of you. Indeed, the devolution settlements for Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales all differ significantly from one another, while the model for regional government in England will be different again.

'The important thing is to recognise that one size does not fit all, but that we all need to examine the best way of taking forward and improving conditions in our own localities, regions and nations,' said Mr Murphy.

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