New Brexit travel seekers are under 30s as EU plans to ease visa rules

BRUSSELS – Britons under 30 will soon be able to study in European Union member states under plans announced Thursday by the European Commission aimed at restoring some of the freedoms lost with Brexit. It will become easier to work and live, and vice versa.

The European Commission on Thursday announced talks with Britain about a youth mobility agreement that would allow British nationals to study, work and live freely in the EU, and young Europeans to do the same in the UK. proposed to start.

The proposal is likely to be attractive to a future Labor government, with opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer saying he would seek stronger ties with Europe if elected.

The UK government last year approached several EU member states with plans to negotiate a system modeled on the UK's youth mobility visa system. However, they were rejected because this would lead to discriminatory treatment of EU nationals and would not address concerns about tuition fees.

The 10 countries distanced themselves from a proposal to support a Commission-wide agreement with the EU on youth freedoms. A Downing Street spokesperson said the UK government was in favor of reaching individual agreements with each country.

“The UK has introduced a number of such schemes at bilateral level and we will do so where it is in the UK's best interests,” she said. “And we will do that insofar as we meet the requirement to balance bringing skills into the UK and exchanging those skills, but at the same time our commitment to promoting and nurturing British talent and skills. Make sure it's aligned with your goals.''

He added that Britain wanted to “support British talent and skills” but also “reduce legal immigration”.

“That is why we have a system in place where we have a number of agreements with individual EU member states that are in our interests, rather than agreements across the European Commission,” she said.

A Labor Party spokesperson said: “This is a proposal from the EU Commission to EU member states, not to the UK.” This comes as the UK government is reportedly approaching other European countries to establish travel arrangements.

“Labour has no youth mobility plan. We are already committed to improving our relationship and encouraging UK businesses, including exploring veterinary agreements to address trade barriers, mutual recognition of professional qualifications and improving touring opportunities for artists. We have proposed several concrete ways to provide this to consumers.

The move comes four years after the UK left the EU, and despite assurances from Brussels that the UK could remain in the EU, the UK will also leave the popular Erasmus student exchange scheme. Became.

European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčović said: “Brexit is hitting young people in the EU and the UK particularly hard who want to study, work and live abroad.'' Ta. “Today we are taking the first step towards an ambitious but pragmatic agreement between the EU and the UK that will solve this problem. to rebuild the bridge.”

The commission says it wants to “create the right for young people to travel more easily and for longer periods from the EU to the UK and vice versa.” The planned agreement would set out conditions such as age and maximum length of stay (the European Commission recommends ages 18 to 30 with a maximum length of stay of four years), as well as eligibility conditions and rules for checking compliance. It's planned.

The proposal adds that British nationals would only be allowed to travel within the member states they are allowed to travel to, but not in the other 26 EU countries.

The European Commission also wants EU and UK students to be treated equally when it comes to tuition fees. After leaving the EU, EU students moved from 'home' status to 'international' status, which can vary between £11,400 and £38,000 a year. Student visas are another matter, with medical surcharges usually £776 a year but can be £490.

Austrian MEP Andreas Scheder said the European Parliament overwhelmingly supported restoring student mobility. “We're all for it. There's no reason for anyone to be against it,” he said. I. “We want European students to pay the same fees as UK students. It would be perfect if it was the same as before, but we still need to negotiate.”

He said the UK's refusal to take part in any student scheme, even one proposed by the EU, was a political decision by a government driven by Brexit.

“This was an ideological thing,” he said. “They said they wanted to take a full break. But they certainly understand that British students and British universities are suffering right now. Now we have the chance to get back on track. have.”

Britain also withdrew from the Horizon Europe research program four years ago in response to pleas from the scientific community, but moved to rejoin the program last year.

Last year, the European Movement delivered a petition to Downing Street calling for Britain's return to Erasmus, signed by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, former Green Party leader Caroline Lucas and former Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable. It had 40,000 signatures, including the signatures of Mr.

The move was welcomed by Best for Britain, a campaign group that called for Rishi Sunak to restore free movement.

Naomi Smith, chief executive of Best for Britain, said: “The UK government must now do the same.” “Until a reciprocal EU-UK youth mobility scheme is formally established, our young people will lose out on the irreplaceable benefits their parents and older siblings enjoyed because of the failed Brexit project they did not vote for. They will continue to be deprived of formative experiences.”

Last year's Best for Britain poll of more than 10,000 voters found that 68% supported a new mutual youth mobility scheme with the EU and 61% supported Britain's Erasmus membership.

The move was also welcomed by the British Youth Council, a UK-wide youth-led charity.

Maurizio Cattin, from the British Youth Council, said: “This is not only a welcome step, but also an opportunity for the EU and UK youth sectors, and young people more generally, to foster closer bilateral and cross-border ties. This is a necessary measure at a time when we are in desperate need of a new government.” A young British ambassador.

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