On Tuesday 5th December at 5pm, the Young European Movement, in partnership with European Movement UK and the British Youth Council, hosted a policy roundtable in the Portcullis House in Westminster to discuss the future relationship between the UK and the EU in the areas of student exchange, education, training and youth work.
This roundtable was convened to coincide with the UK-EU Parliamentary Partnership Assembly, with the intention of placing youth issues at the forefront of the agenda, including giving consideration to the UK's future membership of the Erasmus+ Programme.
The discussion was chaired by Klajdi Selimi, President of the Young European Movement and board member of European Movement UK, and the panel was enriched by the knowledge and experiences of esteemed speakers.
On the panel were Nathalie Loiseau MEP - Chair of the EU-UK Parliamentary Partnership Assembly and former Minister for Europe under President Emmanuel Macron; Alyn Smith MP - SNP Spokesperson on Europe in the House of Commons, and former Member of the European Parliament; and Maurizio Cuttin - the UK's Young Ambassador to the European Youth Forum and Advisor to the rapporteur of the European Economic and Social Committee’s EU-UK Follow-up Committee.
During an hour of intensive discussion, the three speakers deplored the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the Erasmus+ programme, regretting the lost opportunities to study, work or travel for the young generation since Brexit.
All spoke about why the UK needs to rejoin the Erasmus+ programme, and how they are not satisfied by the alternative put forward by the British government, the Turing scheme.
For Alyn Smith, “Turing is not reciprocal, it’s not socially progressive; it’s smaller and it’s a cruel deception”. Furthermore, he thinks that Turing is set up to fail because of the UK's current "disaster budget".
Alyn Smith also insisted that the UK’s withdrawal from the Erasmus programme is based on lies and a promise not kept by the UK government:
“The British government never intended to leave Erasmus, Johnson promised he wouldn't leave but then we did for no reason... The promise to keep Erasmus was a lie. Nobody would have voted for Brexit if they had said ‘we are leaving Erasmus'."
"But there is every single reason to go back, to rejoin Erasmus+,” claimed Maurizio Cuttin, insisting on the fact that Erasmus is not a remain or leave issue.
As for Nathalie Loiseau, she believes that one of the reasons Brexit has been such a catastrophe is that the future and the present has been stolen from young people here in the UK. However, she is optimistic and considers that the door to rejoin Erasmus+ remains open from the perspective of the European Union.
Likewise, Alyn Smith promised that his party will bring the UK back into Erasmus. He considered that the freedom of movement in the EU was great and they want it back, for all of us.
Alyn Smith assures that we should never never underestimate the power of engagement and activism. That’s why, Klajdi Selimi recalled that the next step is action.
The first and easiest thing to do is to sign the joint petition launched by the Young European Movement UK and the European Movement UK which, at time of writing, has already collected over 17,000 signatures.
Do not hesitate to share it and come to our next event on the subject on Tuesday 12 December.