But who will be more affected?

By Elena Alban.

On the 23rd June 2016, an event marked the history of the United Kingdom and the European Union.

«Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?>> was the question that could change the future of Europe. And it did, even if the referendum that took place in the UK was a consultative one, not legally binding, and whose results were far from being clear and decisive. The “leave” percentage won over the “remain” one just for 3,78% more, as BBC data reported.

A strong difference in the reception of the European Union can be detected in the different age of people voting “remain” or “leave”. According to BBC data, young people seem to trust more the European Union and to see it as an opportunity for their future.  In particular, the Brexit will have substantial implications on students:

  1. The automatic direct of the citizens of the EU to enter directly in the UK will be no more granted: there will be the necessity to have the passport;
  2. It will be required a visa or a work permit to enter the country;
  3. The touristic visa will last only 3 months and for what concerns the working visa, it will be easier to access jobs for skilled workers (researches, doctors, etc…) than for unskilled workers like “pizzaiolo”, barmen, etc…
  4. Studying in the UK will become more and more an opportunity destinated to an elite as the cost of education in Great Britain is higher than in Europe and many European citizens will be disadvantaged by the fact that part of the funds used to study there were provided by the EU through the application of different programmes such as the Erasmus +.

With reference to the last point, recent news has shed light on the Erasmus+ programme. On the 30th of January 2019, the European Commission proposed a set of emergency measures to avoid the interruption of the mobility period of the students of the Erasmus + Programme in the case the UK would leave the EU without an agreement.  According to the European Commission, the regulation should grant that in the day in which the UK will leave the EU, Erasmus + mobility periods should not be interrupted. This rule should be valid for all the activities financed by the Erasmus + (including international activities in countries not part of the programme) that started before the 30th of March 2019, both for European citizens in the UK and for English citizens in the EU.

And for those who started their mobility period after the 30th March 2019?

The Commission proposed an emergency cross-sectional regulation based on more restrictive measures and specific conditions as specified in the “Council Regulation on measures concerning the implementation and financing of the general budget of the Union in 2019 in relation to the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the Union”.

The destiny of the Erasmus + programme is not known. It will depend on the will of the UK and the EU to find an agreement and to renegotiate the programme not to deny students an important opportunity as the Erasmus+ is.

However, at the end of the story, what this sad situation leaves us is a strong sense of disappointment.

Besides the will to reach an agreement in order to go on granting students the opportunity to study in the UK, being the mainland of the English language, the international language used all over the world, the Brexit is the result of a losing approach toward the construction of a more united world. Cutting the bridges with the rest of Europe is the sign of the disbelief on the European Union. It could make sense, as the European Union is full of incoherencies and lacks, but it is important to look at all these negative aspects by balancing them with the positive ones. The EU is not perfect and it will never be as such, but it is the best result of international cooperation ever achieved in the course of history. To make it work, the solution is not to get away from it, but to stay in it, to get your country involved, to make your voice be heard. Escaping is never the solution as neither isolation. To get a stronger Union, there is the need for more dialogue and listening at the higher institutional level and, most of all, there is the need of creating a common culture and a common awareness on the principles on which our European society is based and that have granted more than half a century of peace for the first time in Europe. Culture is the key point to building a strong basis to deal with future challenges that mankind will have to face. These new challenges do not always refer only to events caused by human decision (such as wars, conflicts, …), but they will oblige mankind to deal with problems that it is not even able to manage, such as climate change.

The Erasmus+ is one of the best achievements of the EU in reaching an important goal like this: it helps in creating a common culture through the confrontation among different knowledges, through dialogue and mutual understanding, through strengthening links among people of different countries to create a more favourable environment for cooperation and collaboration.

Isolation cut you off the game and, in an interdependent world like ours, it will be worst first of all for UK citizens than for the European ones.