EU Proposes Youth Mobility Deal with UK to Improve Post-Brexit Ties

The EU proposes a youth mobility scheme with the UK, allowing 18-30-year-olds to study, work, and live in each other's countries, aiming to rebuild post-Brexit ties, though the UK's response has been cautious.

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Mazhar Abbas
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EU Proposes Youth Mobility Deal with UK to Improve Post-Brexit Ties

EU Proposes Youth Mobility Deal with UK to Improve Post-Brexit Ties

The European Commission has proposed opening negotiations with the United Kingdom to allow young people between 18 and 30 years old to move freely, work and study in both the EU and UK after Brexit.

The proposal aims to improve mobility between the two regions, which has been damaged since the UK's withdrawal from the EU in 2016.

Under the proposed agreement, EU and UK citizens in this age group would be eligible to stay up to four years in the destination country. The deal would provide equal treatment for EU and UK students in terms of university tuition fees, which have become a strong deterrent for EU students to study in the UK since Brexit.

The Commission believes the proposed youth mobility scheme would help "rebuild human bridges" between young Europeans on both sides of the Channel. It would largely revert youth mobility to pre-Brexit times, allowing EU and UK citizens to study, work, and live in each other's countries for up to four years without excessive visa fees.

However, the UK's initial response to the proposal has been cool. The country already has its own Youth Mobility Scheme with individual EU member states and has expressed a desire to reduce legal migration while supporting UK talent and skills. The UK government prefers country-by-country deals rather than a bloc-wide agreement.

The Commission's recommendation will need to be approved by EU member countries before negotiations with the UK can begin. If agreed, the scheme would have certain conditions, such as requiring comprehensive health insurance and financial means, and could be rejected on grounds of public policy, security, or health concerns.

The Commission is also open to the UK rejoining the Erasmus student exchange scheme, which it had exited after Brexit. The UK has already turned down an offer to continue participating in Erasmus and has put in place a replacement called the Turing Scheme.

Why this matters: The proposed EU-UK youth mobility deal aims to restore some elements of freedom of movement for young people that were lost after Brexit. It could help fill labor shortages in sectors like hospitality and universities, and foster cultural exchange for future generations.

The European Commission's proposal is seen as a major concession and a breakthrough in UK-EU relations post-Brexit. However, its implementation remains uncertain at this stage and could take several years to negotiate. The UK Home Office has stated that the country has reached a "tipping point with mass migration" and wants to reduce legal migration, so it remains to be seen how receptive the UK government will be to the EU's youth mobility scheme.

Key Takeaways

  • EU proposes allowing 18-30 year olds to freely move, work, study between UK and EU
  • Scheme aims to restore pre-Brexit freedom of movement and cultural exchange
  • UK initially cool to proposal, prefers country-by-country deals over bloc-wide agreement
  • Scheme could help fill labor shortages but faces uncertainty over UK's migration stance
  • EU also offers UK to rejoin Erasmus student exchange program it had exited post-Brexit