Last week, the European Commission proposed increasing opportunities for young people in the UK and Europe to work and study in each other’s territory. This involved granting them a four-year visa, subject to certain conditions.

It would also have reopened the door to a mutual reduction in tuition fees. Within the EU, citizens essentially pay the same tuition fees as home students, regardless of which member state they study in: a German studying in the Netherlands pays the same as a Dutch student and vice versa. Under the terms of the proposal, this could once again have applied to students from the UK.


The Guardian was one of several newspapers to welcome the proposal as “a breakthrough” and a major concession by the European Union. But now it has been rejected out of hand. Britain’s Conservative government has dismissed the proposal and even the opposition Labour Party sees no future in it.

They believe the European proposal is not in keeping with the principles of Brexit. UK politicians view it as a partial return to free movement within the EU, one of the main themes rejected by pro-Brexit voters.

The UK appears to favour striking deals with individual European countries rather than the EU as a whole. France and the Netherlands are thought to be among the countries under consideration. For now, EU member states are continuing to close ranks on this issue: the current proposal is an all or nothing offer.


The UK has also ended participation in Europe’s Erasmus+ exchange programme, which enables students to study abroad for a limited period. However, they have set up their own equivalent.

The European Commission’s proposal was one of a series of initiatives aimed at taking the edge off Brexit. For example, the UK is now due to resume participation in the Horizon Europe research programme.

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