No to EU Youth Mobility Scheme

Danielle Cohen
By Danielle Cohen Immigration Law Solicitor Linkedin
Danielle Cohen has over 20 years of experience as a lawyer and a reputation for offering professional, honest and expert advice.
30 April 2024

The UK rejected the EU Youth Mobility offer, with both the UK ruling Conservative Party and Labour Party rejecting the offer, despite successive Tory Governments trying to negotiate a bilateral agreement with several big EU countries.

The Youth Mobility Scheme deal, aiming to make it easier for young people to work and travel abroad, has been suggested as an easy step towards a closer relationship with the EU after Brexit. However, such offer was considered to be complicated.

What is the Youth Mobility Scheme?

Schemes vary from country to country, but typically it provides for people aged 18 to 35 with easily obtainable visas to live and work in a country for two to three years. The UK has Youth Mobility Schemes with more than ten countries. The conditions for such schemes differ between states. The Applicants can apply for a visa lasting for two years provided they have savings, with successful Applicants able to study, work and even set up micro business. The scheme does not offer the ability to bring family members as child dependents or adult dependents and offers no right to settlement. Commonwealth countries such as Australia and New Zealand get unlimited places, whilst others such as Japan and Taiwan have a cap. EU countries have similar schemes with other non-EU countries.

In recent years several EU Member States including Spain and Germany have been tempted by the UK offer of a bilateral deal where their young people could come and live and work in the UK and vice versa. However, now it has been decided that Youth Mobility must be available to all Member States equally and last week the European Commission, which is in charge of the UK talks, proposed EU wide deal including ambitious demands that led some to speculate that it wanted to shut shown the debate.

The UK Government ruled out the EU wide Youth Mobility deal because they argued that free movement within the EU has ended by Brexit and there were no plans to introduce it.

Can the deal still happen?

The prospects are unlikely, despite some criticising the politicians’ attitude by limiting young people’s horizons.

Why was the Commission making this proposal?

The withdrawal of the UK from the EU has resulted in decreased mobility between the EU and the UK and the situation particularly affected opportunities for young people. It was envisaged that the agreement would benefit both EU and UK citizens and agreement would only provide for a limited in time mobility and certain conditions that should be made during this stay.

Why were they proposing an agreement at EU level and not a collection of parallel bilateral deals at the level of Member States?

Only an EU level approach would ensure that all Member States were treated equally in respect of mobility of young people to the UK and this is one of the key considerations of the 2018 European Council Guidelines on relations with the UK.