This week the Irish Government committed to providing £1.7m of funding to enable Northern Ireland to once again participate in the Erasmus+ scheme.
According to The Irish News, "the money will allow students from the north to continue to go on Erasmus+ international study and work trips following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU".
This funding from the Irish Government marks a significant milestone in ensuring that young people in Northern Ireland can continue to explore new horizons, broaden their perspectives, and build lifelong connections with others from different cultures and backgrounds across Europe.
The Republic's Further and Higher Education Minister Simon Harris said the funding is “a permanent commitment, and will be in place for as long as students in Northern Ireland wish to avail of this option or an alternative mobility model emerges. It is an investment in relationships between institutions north and south. It is an investment in our island’s next generation, and I think it’s a really practical, sensible way of continuing to co-operate post-Brexit."
For us here at the European Movement UK this is positive news: one small step forward in the fight to reverse the impacts and lost opportunities caused by Brexit in Northern Ireland.
Initiatives like Erasmus+ play a vital role in maintaining strong ties and nurturing the values of unity and cooperation among European nations.
Brexit has done such enormous damage, politically, economically and culturally. But repairing this damage comes one step at a time. So we must celebrate the fact that Northern Irish students are no longer cut off from the chance to study in Europe through Erasmus+ - even as we remain determined to achieve more, and rebuild our ties with the EU across the board.
And together I know that step-by-step we can continue to rebuild relationships with Europe and undo the damage of Brexit.
Coordinator, Young European Movement