Young people to have free movement across UK in new European Commission plans

Words by Caleb Tutt

The European Commission (EC) is hoping to start talks with the UK to draw up a post-Brexit deal to give young people more opportunities to study and work in Europe.

The Commission’s proposed deal would make it easier for UK citizens aged between 18 and 30 to work and study in the European Union (EU) and vice versa.

Under the current plans, the scheme would allow participants to stay in their host country for four years.

Although the Commission would prefer this deal to be EU-wide, Downing Street has said its existing bilateral schemes are in the UK’s best interest, meaning it is unclear what a final deal would look like.

The government said it prefers country-to-country deals rather than a blanket rule applying to all 27 EU member states.

It said its existing schemes with individual EU member states already deliver for students and professionals, and that it wants to reduce legal migration and support UK talent.

In a statement on Thursday, EC Vice President Maros Sefcovic said: “The United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union has hit young people in the EU and the UK who would like to study, work and live abroad particularly hard.

“Today, we take the first step towards an ambitious but realistic agreement between the EU and the UK that would fix this issue. Our aim is to rebuild human bridges between young Europeans on both sides of the Channel.”

Chair of the Labour Movement in Europe, Stella Creasy MP, welcomed the talks and praised the “willingness of the EU to consider a mobility agreement”.

Ms Creasy said: “Since Brexit, our young people lost out on jobs, university places and countless opportunities all because they can't easily move across Europe.

“Labour must now be clear that, in Government, we will not let this opportunity to help limit the damage leaving the EU has done to our young people pass us by.”

The Commission also said the deal should not include “excessive” visa fees and should provide “equal treatment” for those paying educational fees and working jobs.

However, the deal would not undo the freedoms of movement lost by the UK when it left the EU, and it would be different to the Erasmus+ programme which allows students to easily study abroad.

The UK withdrew from the Erasmus+ programme in 2021 due to concerns over costs from former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, replacing it with the Turing scheme which allows opportunities to study worldwide.

But, the EC said it’s open to talks of the UK rejoining the Erasmus+ programme should it want to.

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