Recommendation for a Council Decision authorising the opening of negotiations for an agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom on youth mobility

Author (Corporate)
Series Details COM (2024) 169
Publication Date 18/04/2024
Content Type , ,


Recommendation adopted by the European Commission on 18 April 2024 for a Council Decision authorising the launch of talks for an agreement between the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK) on youth mobility.

Further information:

The United Kingdom withdrew from the European Union in February 2020 - a process also known as Brexit. The arrangements for the withdrawal are set out in the so-called Withdrawal Agreement, which entered into force and provided for a transition period during which EU law applied to and in the UK. That transition period ended on 31 December 2020. During that transition period, the two sides agreed on a Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) which entered into force on 1 May 2021.

The end of the transition period resulted in the end of free movement of persons between the EU and the UK. In 2018, the European Council had expressed openness to include provisions on movement of persons based on full reciprocity and non-discrimination in a future bilateral partnership, but the UK declines to enter into negotiations on mobility during the talks held in 2020. Consequently, the TCA does not address the question of mobility of persons between the EU and the UK. However, it does include provisions on social security coordination that support the possibility for mobility of persons under the domestic law of either side and is therefore an enabler of mobility.

In 2023, the UK approached several (but not all) EU Member States to launch negotiations on youth mobility, modelled upon the UK's youth mobility visa scheme. This approach would result in differential treatment of EU nationals, and would not address the main barriers to mobility experienced by young people since the end of the transition period. An EU-UK agreement on youth mobility would seek to address some of those barriers, and it would be reciprocal.

The UK has also declined thus far to associate to EU programmes in the area of youth, culture and education (such as Erasmus+ and Creative Europe). EU students are subject to very high tuition fees applicable to foreign students when seeking to undertake studies in the UK. They also have more difficult access (or no access, to related benefits (such as scholarships and student loans). This is also the case for doctoral students going to the UK as part of an Horizon Europe project. As a result, the number of EU students in the UK has declined.

Mobility of persons between the EU and the UK is governed by the respective domestic (immigration) rules of the EU (and its Member States) and the UK. Generally, mobility between the EU and the UK has become more difficult. This has impacted the opportunities for young persons to experience life in each other's territory.

The proposed Council Decision was adopted by the European Commission on 18 April 2024.

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Commentary and Analysis
The Local (Europe), 18/04/2024: How would a 'youth mobility scheme' between the UK and EU really work?
Scottish Parliament: SPICe: Spotlight, 19/04/2024: The European Commission’s proposal for an EU-UK youth mobility agreement

The Guardian, 18/04/2024: Brussels proposes return to pre-Brexit mobility for UK and EU young people
Politico, 18/04/2024: Brussels wants post-Brexit talks with UK on new youth mobility rights
Deutsche Welle, 18/04/2024: EU wants to undo Brexit, a little bit, for people 18 to 30
The Telegraph (UK), 18/04/2024: EU woos Labour with freedom of movement deal
The Irish Times, 18/04/2024: Brussels proposes return to pre-Brexit mobility for UK and EU young people
The Guardian, 19/04/2024: Sunak rejects offer of youth mobility scheme between EU and UK
Euronews, 19/04/2024: EU proposes youth mobility agreement with UK to help youngsters travel, work and live in both areas
Bloomberg, 19/04/2024: UK Rejects EU Proposal to Ease Travel for Young Adults
BBC News, 20/04/2024: UK rejects EU free movement for young people offer
Le Monde, 20/04/2024: UK rejects youth mobility deal with EU
The Brussels Times, 20/04/2024: UK uninterested in EU proposal to boost youth mobility
The Independent (UK), 21/04/2024: Anger as government rejects post-Brexit agreement with Europe to help young people live abroad
Nation Cymru, 21/04/2024: UK Government and Labour Party criticised after snubbing talks on EU-wide youth mobility scheme

European Commission: Relations with the United Kingdom
European Commission: Press Release, 18/04/2024: Commission proposes to open negotiations to facilitate youth mobility between the EU and the UK
European Commission: Questions and answers on the Commission's proposal to open negotiations on EU-UK youth mobility (18 April 2024)

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