MEPs welcome Parliament’s post-Brexit engagement with younger generations of UK citizens

The European Parliament says it will maintain its presence in the UK, notably through its London office.
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By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

23 Feb 2021

Parliament’s decision-making bureau, consisting of President David Sassoli and the vice-presidents, have also agreed to adapt the assembly's communication programmes “to ensure that UK citizens, in particular the younger generation and the millions of EU27 citizens residing in the country, are still able to participate” in a range of schemes.

A Parliament spokesman told this site, “Opinion multiplier groups, youth groups and organisations will be able to participate in debates and events offered by the European Parliament, like the European Youth Event, which brings together thousands of young Europeans every two years in Strasbourg and online.”

“More than 8,000 young people took part in the 2018 event.”

He added, “UK schools will also be able to participate in Euroscola, an immersive experience that takes place in Parliament in Strasbourg, allowing secondary school students to learn about European integration by experiencing it first-hand.”

“British schools can also take part in the European Parliament Ambassador Schools Programme.”

This website canvassed reaction to the move and Irish Renew Europe member Barry Andrews commented, “I am delighted at this news and the more ‘connective tissue’ between the EU and the UK, the better.”

“I am delighted at this news and the more ‘connective tissue’ between the EU and the UK, the better. Many of the 16 million UK voters who voted to remain in the EU in 2016 were young people” Barry Andrews, Renew Europe

“Many of the 16 million UK voters who voted to remain in the EU in 2016 were young people. I also think the EU should unilaterally offer a certain number of Erasmus+ grants to UK students wishing to study in the EU.”

His comments were echoed by Deirdre Clune, an Irish deputy from the EPP Group, who said, “I think this is a positive development. It will be important to continue to educate and inform UK and EU citizens about the Union and how it operates as we will continue to remain close neighbours and the complexities of the EU do need explaining.”

“I see how well the EP communication programmes work in my own country and the particular enthusiasm that young participants show for the Euroscala event.”

German EPP member David McAllister, foreign affairs committee chair, was equally enthusiastic, telling The Parliament Magazine, “I welcome that the young generation from the United Kingdom will be able to participate in the programmes offered by the European Parliament. These exchanges are unique experiences and lead to friendships across countries.”

Former UK Labour MEP Richard Corbett said, “This is a generous offer by the European Parliament to keep the door open to young Brits.  Youth in Britain was overwhelmingly opposed to Brexit and it is good to reach out to them.”

Former UK Liberal leader in Parliament Sir Graham Watson said, “Young people in Britain have been badly let down by their own government and parliament. They will be relieved to see a hand of welcome and friendship extended from the continent.”

“I welcome that the young generation from the United Kingdom will be able to participate in the programmes offered by the European Parliament. These exchanges are unique experiences and lead to friendships across countries” David McAllister, EPP

“This small investment by the EU may pay huge dividends in the attitudes of future generations of British leaders who already question the purpose of Brexit.”

Watson, in the 1970s, was a beneficiary of programmes funded by both the Council of Europe and the then European Community.

Former Liberal member Andrew Duff described the move as “an intelligent use of the European Parliament.”

Denis MacShane, a former Europe minister in the UK, also told this site, “One can only welcome this initiative by David Sassoli and the European Parliament. The clique that led the UK out of Europe will not be there forever and it is important that tomorrow British citizens knows about our common history and heritage.”

He added, “Luckily not even Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and Rupert Murdoch can block this kind of exchange, and I look forward to future generations in Britain learning about Europe and getting to know and exchange ideas with fellow Europeans.”

“Luckily not even Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and Rupert Murdoch can block this kind of exchange, and I look forward to future generations in Britain learning about Europe and getting to know and exchange ideas with fellow Europeans” Denis MacShane, former UK Europe Minister

Elsewhere, Jayne Adye, of the Get Britain Out group, said, “While the UK will always encourage cooperation between the EU and the UK - especially when it comes to making sure children receive a good education and ample opportunities - this move by the European Union to actively encourage young people within the UK to ‘experience European integration first hand’ and take part in a ‘European Ambassador schools programme’ is nothing more than an attempt to push the ideology of federalism within the European Union into the minds of young people in the UK.”

She added, “There is no other reason for this programme to continue in the UK for non-EU citizens, other than an end goal of encouraging the UK to re-join the EU. It is time those within the EU and ‘Remainers’ in this country give up their ridiculous attempts to undo the Leave result of the Referendum in 2016.”

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