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BREXIT

‘Devastating’: Anger and dismay after UK decides to pull out of EU’s Erasmus student scheme

British students will no longer be able to participate in the Erasmus exchange programme after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson rejected the chance to continue participating in the scheme.

'Devastating': Anger and dismay after UK decides to pull out of EU's Erasmus student scheme
Erasmus exchange students from all over Europe pose with a Bambi award in the Millenium category during the Bambi media prize ceremony on November 21, 2019. AFP

Speaking after the Brexit deal was announced the EU's negotiator Michel Barnier said: “I am simply expressing two regrets about this societal cooperation. 

“That the British government chose not to participate in the Erasmus exchange program.”

Barnier also expressed regret that the UK decided to end freedom of movement in another blow to the “social mobility” of young Britons.

Erasmus has been in operation since the late 1980s and has allowed British students to study at universities in the EU member states for set periods of time.

Tens of thousands have taken advantage of the scheme and the small financial grants it offers to help students study abroad.

British PM Boris Johnson defended the decision to end participation in Erasmus saying : “It was a tough decision” but said “Erasmus was extremely expensive.”

He said the government will replace Erasmus with “a UK scheme for students to go around the world, it will be called the Turing scheme… named after Alan Turing”

But on Twitter young people and those who have participated in Erasmus were dismayed.

“Erasmus changed my life. I'm devastated thousands of British students won't get to experience the joy of meeting people from different European cultures,” said one.

Sofia Lew is tweeted: “I'm heartbroken that so many opportunities will be lost due to the UK's decision to leave Erasmus. Not just student exchanges, but adult education, vocational training, youth work etc. A UK equivalent CANNOT deliver the same impact. This'll be devastating for social mobility.

Another on Twitter simply said: “What a blow for everyone with aspirations for a better world.”

 

 

Member comments

  1. “Erasmus is expensive” says the man who went to Eton. Disconnected caste etonians and their ilk arguably do more damage than good.

  2. Britain’s “global” alternative is only great for families who can afford to send their kids half way across the world – out of the price range of those of “normal” means.

    Boris did promise we weren’t going to leave Erasmus…

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BREXIT

Driving licences: Are the UK and Italy any closer to reaching an agreement?

With ongoing uncertainty over whether UK driving licences will continue to be recognised in Italy beyond the end of this year, British residents are asking where they stand.

Driving licences: Are the UK and Italy any closer to reaching an agreement?

Many of The Local’s British readers have been in touch recently to ask whether any progress has been made in negotiations between the UK and Italy on a reciprocal agreement on the use of driving licences.

If you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance that you’re familiar with the background of this Brexit consequence.

READ ALSO: Frustration grows as UK driving licence holders in Italy wait in limbo

When Britain left the EU there was no reciprocal agreement in place, but UK licence holders living in Italy were granted a grace period in which they could continue to drive on their British licences. This period was later extended to the current deadline of December 31st, 2022.

The situation beyond that date however remains unclear, and concern is growing among the sizeable number of British nationals living in Italy who say no longer being allowed to drive would be a serious problem.

There was the option of exchanging licences before the end of 2021, but many didn’t make the deadline. As has been proven before, this was often not due to slackness but rather all manner of circumstances, from having moved to Italy after or shortly before the cut-off date to bureaucratic delays.

Driving licences: How does the situation for Brits in Italy compare to rest of Europe?

So is an agreement any closer? Or do those driving in Italy on a UK licence really need to go to the considerable trouble and expense of sitting an Italian driving test (in Italian)?

With five months left to go, there’s still no indication as to whether a decision will be made either way.

The British government continues to advise licence holders to sit their Italian driving test – while also stressing that they’re working hard on reaching a deal, which would make taking the test unnecessary.

This message has not changed.

On Wednesday, July 27th, British Ambassador to Italy Ed Llewellyn tweeted after a meeting with Italian Infrastructure and Transport Minister Enrico Giovannini: “The British and Italian governments continue to work towards an agreement on exchange of driving licences.”

But the ambassador earlier this month advised UK nationals “not to wait” and to “take action now by applying for an Italian licence”.

In an official newsletter published in mid-July, Llewellyn acknowledged the concerns of British residents and confirmed that negotiations are still going on.

“I know that many of you are understandably concerned about whether your UK driving licence will continue to be recognised in Italy, especially when the extension granted by Italy until 31 December 2022 for such recognition expires.

“Let me set out where things stand. The British Government is working to reach an agreement with Italy on the right to exchange a licence without the need for a test. 

READ ALSO:  Do you have to take Italy’s driving test in Italian?

“The discussions with our Italian colleagues are continuing and our objective is to try to reach an agreement in good time before the end of the year.

“We hope it will be possible to reach an agreement – that is our objective and we are working hard to try to deliver it. 

Nevertheless, he said, “our advice is not to wait to exchange your licence.”

“If you need to drive in Italy, you can take action now by applying for an Italian licence. This will, however, involve taking a practical and theory test.” 

He acknowledged that “the process is not a straightforward one and that there are delays in some areas to book an appointment for a test”.

READ ALSO: ‘Anyone can do it’: Why passing your Italian driving test isn’t as difficult as it sounds

“We will continue to work towards an agreement,” he wrote. “That is our objective and it is an objective we share with our Italian colleagues.“

The British Embassy in Rome had not responded to The Local’s requests for further comment on Friday.

The Local will continue to publish any news on the recognition of British driving licences in Italy. See the latest updates in our Brexit-related news section here.

Find more information on the UK government website’s Living in Italy section.

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