Ken Skates has backed calls for David Cameron to ensure Wales does not miss out on vital cash after Britain voted to leave the European Union.
Welsh Labour’s First Minister Carwyn Jones has demanded assurances from the Prime Minister that EU money promised to Wales won’t disappear.
Mr Skates, who is the Welsh Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure, said: “One of the most immediate concerns facing us is the future of around £0.5bn a year which Wales currently gets from the EU to support our farming industry and improve some of our deprived communities.
“During the referendum campaign, the Leave side made cast-iron promises that this money would continue to come to Wales in the event of a vote to exit the EU. The First Minister has written to David Cameron asking for confirmation that every penny is safe, and we need this assurance immediately.
“There are hundreds of EU-funded projects across Wales now in the balance. If the pledge is not honoured by the Tory UK Government, it will have a devastating effect on our budgets – which have already been stretched through years of Tory austerity.”
Mr Skates said several high-profile projects in his Clwyd South constituency had benefited from EU money – including restoring the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct (£714k) and the creation of the Plas Pentwyn community centre in Coedpoeth (£840k) – and he didn’t want to see others scuppered following the Brexit vote.
“EU funds continue to play a key role in supporting growth and jobs post-Brexit, and the loss of the money we’re due would have an impact on our people, our businesses and our communities,” added Mr Skates.
“The Welsh Government has made it clear that we must be involved in negotiations to get the best deal for Wales. This includes the need for urgent reform of the outdated Barnett formula by the Tory UK Government to ensure a fairer funding system for Wales.
“There are difficult times ahead, but the Welsh Government will do everything in its power to protect Welsh interests, strengthen our economy and unify the nation.”
Welsh Government figures showed that EU investment has created at least 780 jobs in Wrexham and helped 1,290 others in the borough into work. In addition, more than 4,100 people in Wrexham have gained extra qualifications thanks to EU funding and 1,075 have benefited from an EU-funded apprenticeship.
Plas Madoc Leisure Centre received EU support after volunteers saved it from demolition by Wrexham Council, as did Ceiriog Memorial Institute.