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BREXIT day: uncertain times for young people in the UK


As we reach the final days of the UK’s membership of the European Union and begin the transition period, the future for British young people remains uncertain and precarious.

From the start of the negotiations between the UK and the EU, the European Youth Forum has stood in solidarity with all of the young people inside and outside the UK who may be affected by the decisions and particularly with our member, the British Youth Council.

Our message was loud and clear. As the generation that must deal with the consequences of Brexit for the longest period of time, the concerns, opinions and rights of young people must be a priority for decision-makers. As it stands, not only did the negotiation process fail to maintain space for dialogue and exchange with young people and youth organisations, but the political, social and economic rights of young people are being put at risk as a result.

The UK still has time to take steps to safeguard the future of its young people as global citizens.

One is to ensure that all young people in the UK have access to the same rights and opportunities, such as freedom of movement, and participating in learning exchanges in the European Union. Maintaining meaningful funding opportunities, such as the Erasmus+ programme for young people and youth organisations, will have a huge effect on the future connections and solidarity between young people in the United Kingdom and the European Union. Over half of UK students who choose to study abroad do so through the EU’s Erasmus+ Programme. However, following a vote by the House of Commons earlier this month, there is now no guarantee that Erasmus+ will continue to be available to young people in the UK.

Another crucial step is to ensure that British young people are entitled to and will have access to at least the same level of social protection as before. By leaving the European Union, the UK risks leaving behind high standards for environmental or social protection. We can only encourage the British government to not go backward and not let young people or other vulnerable groups down.

Uncertainty for the future also impacts the EU, especially its long term budget. As the lack of UK's financial contribution will leave a big hole, we must not allow this to come at the detriment of important policies for young people, such as Erasmus+ or the European Social Fund. Regardless of these challenges, past and present, the European Youth Forum will always keep fighting for youth rights, including of those young people residing in the UK and the UK nationals in the EU.

The rights of young people go beyond borders and institutions. We will continue to stand in solidarity for young people in the UK and across Europe.

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