Sadiq Khan has backed a European Movement campaign for the UK to rejoin the EU’s Erasmus programme.
The London mayor joins former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable, former Green Party leader Caroline Lucas MP, the SNP’s Europe spokesperson Alyn Smith MP and Plaid Cymru’s Westminster group leader Liz Saville-Roberts MP in backing calls to reopen the door to Europe for young people.
He said: “The UK may no longer be part of the EU, but London is, and always will be a European city and by re-joining the programme we can reopen the door for young people from across Europe to once again choose our city as we work to build a better London for everyone.”
Khan’s predecessor, Boris Johnson, committed to the UK remaining part of Erasmus during the Brexit negotiations, but it was revealed in December 2020 that the two sides had failed to reach an agreement.
Johnson said it was “a tough decision” to leave the scheme, but claimed that the UK “loses out” financially because of the larger number of EU nationals who were coming to study in the UK.
The Government has replaced the Erasmus programme with its own Turing Scheme, which it calls “a truly global programme with every country in the world eligible to partner with UK education settings”.
But according to Stella Mavropoulou, head of international affairs and partnerships at the Young European Movement, “although the UK government promised that Turing would be a viable replacement, this is not the case.
“It offers fewer maintenance grants and less funding. UK students have much more limited opportunities to go abroad, and there is no reciprocality in the programme.”
The campaign group has also pointed out that this isn’t a Brexit issue.
Today Turkey, Norway, Lichenstein and North Macedonia all have access to the Erasmus+ programme, yet remain outside of the EU.