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UK rejects EU offer of free movement for young people

Following Brexit, the UK has turned down an EU proposal that would have made it simpler for individuals between the ages of 18 and 30 to work and study overseas. The agreement, according to the European Commission, would only be a restricted setup and would not reinstate free movement. However, No. 10 has turned down the proposal, claiming that “free movement within the EU was ended”.

The UK already has programmes in place with a few non-EU nations that let citizens enter the country for a maximum of two years.

It indicates that rather than expanding that to every member of the EU, it is open to doing so.


“Free movement within the EU was ended and there are no plans to introduce it,” a government official stated on Friday night. “We are not introducing an EU-wide youth mobility scheme.”

According to Downing Street, bilateral agreements are preferable to one that would cover all 27 of the member states.

Additionally, Labour has stated that if it wins the general election later this year, it has “no plans for a youth mobility scheme”.

“No return to the single market, customs union, or free movement” if it gains office, a party spokesperson stated.

It further stated that new agreements for trade in food and agricultural products, the recognition of job qualifications, and the transportation of touring artists were all part of its plan to strengthen the UK’s ties with the EU.

The Brexit referendum in 2016 was largely influenced by the EU’s free movement regulations, which the Leave side promised to leave in order to give the UK more control over immigration.

Given that participants from the UK would only be permitted to remain in the EU member state that granted them, the proposed EU scheme would not quite mirror the current arrangement.

However, it would drastically lessen immigration restrictions on youth travelling between the UK and the EU, with the commission proposing no caps on the total number of individuals.

The European Commission stated in a policy statement that it was intervening after the UK contacted a number of unidentified EU nations last year to talk about specific agreements.

This might lead to “differential treatment” of EU nationals, it added, and a deal including the entire union should be reached to guarantee they are “treated equally”.

Rather, the commission wishes to attach a new international accord to the post-Brexit trade pact with the United Kingdom that went into effect in 2021.

With the exception of Switzerland, it would be the bloc’s first mobility agreement with a nation outside the European Economic Area (EEA).

The EU states would eventually decide whether to begin discussions with the UK and would also need to decide on the terms of the negotiations. They have not yet scheduled a time to talk about the proposition.

Young people from ten nations, including Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, are already able to study or work in the UK for a maximum of two years thanks to the youth mobility scheme visa. However, candidates from the EU are not eligible.

The EU-UK agreement that the European Commission is putting forth would be more expansive, allowing for unlimited work, study, training, and volunteer time over a maximum of four years.

Additionally, it states that applicants from EU countries should not be required to pay the annual UK NHS levy, which is £1,035 for workers and £776 for students and under-18s.

In addition, the suggestions state that EU students should have the same rights to reunite with family members as UK students and should not be required to pay the increased tuition that they had since Brexit.

The Home Office said in a statement that it was “open to agreeing them with our international partners, including EU member states” and that its current youth mobility schemes had been “successful”.

“Our agreements provide a valuable route for cultural exchanges providing partner countries are also willing to offer the same opportunities for young British people,” the government stated.

Since the EU’s freedom of movement regulations expired in 2021 and EU nationals now need a visa in order to enter the country, live there, study there, or work there, immigration levels to the UK have decreased.

The commission’s proposed agreement is probably going to affect official immigration numbers, since those who have been in the UK for more than a year will be included in the data.

Following Brexit, the UK declined an invitation to remain a part of the EU’s Erasmus student exchange programme and instead implemented the Turing Scheme.



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