The UK’s Changing Union (UKCU) was a three year research and engagement project conducted by a partnership of Cardiff University’s Wales Governance Centre, the Institute of Welsh Affairs and Cymru Yfory / Tomorrow’s Wales. The project was funded by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and the Nuffield Foundation.
The project commenced work in January 2012 in response to a review of the Welsh devolution dispensation. Its twin aims were: (1) to ensure that civil society in Wales was able to contribute to the debate about the country’s constitutional future; and, (2) to contribute to overcoming the disconnected nature of the various debates on the territorial constitutions and the future of the union that were taking place across the four countries of the UK. We brought together some of the key participants in those debates in a format that encouraged mutual learning and understanding.
The project’s work was organised into three main strands:
The Forum on the Changing Union: This strand sought to enhance the UK-wide constitutional debate by drawing together opinion formers to discuss and debate key themes of constitutional concern, and the inter-relatedness of the debates in each country.
Engaging with the Commission on Devolution in Wales (Silk Commission): This strand sought to increase the volume and quality of information available on key Welsh constitutional issues, and to investigate policy areas in which the ambiguities of the Welsh devolution dispensation have served as a barrier to effective engagement in the policy process by interest groups and other civil society actors. Research and reports commissioned under this strand provided the evidence base for the project’s submissions to the Commission on Devolution in Wales.
Encouraging wider participation and debate: This strand aimed to broaden participation in debates about the constitutional future of Wales and the UK by enabling civil society to become better informed about constitutional issues and to participate in debates around them. A key element of this strand was the Our Future initiative that has engaged young people from Wales and across the UK in debates about the changing union.
In addition to these core activities, the project also contributed to debates over the quality of democracy in post-devolution Wales and UK by producing and/or commissioning work on:
- The size of the National Assembly for Wales
- The post-devolution civil service in Wales
- Improving inter-governmental relations in the UK
We have also produced a Concluding Statement for the projects that draws upon 3 years of detailed work and reflection to makes some concrete suggestions as to the future direction of debates about the future of Wales and the Changing Union more broadly.
Copies of all our publications and details of our activities can be found elsewhere on this website.
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The project was overseen by a Steering Committee chaired by Professor Richard Wyn Jones and compromising of representatives from each of the partner organisations as well as the chair of the Our Future initiative.