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EU proposes youth mobility agreement with UK to help youngsters travel, work and live in both areas

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen addresses a media conference at the conclusion of an EU Summit in Brussels, Friday, 22 March 2024.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen addresses a media conference at the conclusion of an EU Summit in Brussels, Friday, 22 March 2024. Copyright AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert
Copyright AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert
By Angela Symons with AP
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The agreement would make it easier for under-30s to live, work and travel between the EU and the UK.

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The European Commission proposed on Thursday to start negotiations with the United Kingdom to allow young people to move freely, work and study in both regions after Brexit.

According to the EU, the withdrawal of the UK from the EU following a referendum in 2016 has damaged mobility between the two areas.

“This situation has particularly affected the opportunities for young people to experience life on the other side of the Channel and to benefit from youth, cultural, educational, research and training exchanges,” the Commission said.

When the UK was still a member of the economic and political bloc, its nationals had the right to live and work freely in the EU, with reciprocity for EU nationals in the UK. Under the agreement proposed by the EU's executive arm, EU and UK citizens between 18 and 30 years old would be eligible to stay up to four years in the destination country.

International tuition fees could be scrapped for EU students studying in UK

The deal would also allow equal treatment of EU and UK students in the field of university tuition fees. Most EU students must now pay international tuition fees if they want to study in the UK. The Commission says these vary between £11,400 and £38,000 (€13,300-€44,400) per year and are a strong deterrent for EU students who generally don't have to pay as much within the bloc.

The Commission’s recommendation will be discussed by EU member countries who must give the green light before the executive arm can start negotiations with the UK.

“We have successful Youth Mobility Schemes with 13 countries, including Australia and New Zealand, and remain open to agreeing them with our international partners, including EU member states,” the British government said in a statement.

The UK has its own Youth Mobility Scheme, which it has offered to some EU member states. The Commission believes the British plan is less ambitious than its own proposal.

“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 British government added.

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