238.In 2019, the last full pre-COVID-19 pandemic year during which the UK was a member of the EU, an estimated 4.8 million UK nationals and 5.6 million EU nationals visited the EU and UK, respectively, for work purposes.
239.Free movement of people between the UK and the EU ended following the post-Brexit implementation period. The TCA includes some provisions intended to facilitate specific categories of business and professional mobility. However, the ability to make use of these provisions is subject to strict eligibility criteria and conditions, for instance related to experience and professional status. Furthermore, visa-free travel within the Schengen area is restricted to 90 days or less in a 180-day period. Business travel that falls outside of the provisions of the TCA is regulated by the rules in individual Member States.
240.For longer-term migration, the UK has introduced a new immigration system under which EU citizens without (pre-)settled status are subject to the same rules as those from elsewhere. Jonathan Portes, Professor of Economics and Public Policy at King’s College London, indicated to us that this has resulted in a “reorientation of UK migration flows”. Overall levels of inbound migration from the EU had fallen considerably, but this had been offset by a substantial increase in migration from elsewhere.
241.The coincidence of the introduction of the TCA and restrictions on travel imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic meant that many of the practical effects of the new arrangements were not fully experienced by businesses and professionals until 2022. Nevertheless, the overwhelming majority of those who provided evidence to us on this topic considered that a sufficient period had now passed following the lifting of COVID-19-related travel restrictions to identify the implications of the TCA provisions for mobility.
242.The impact of post-Brexit changes on patterns of inward mobility has varied between sectors and types of role. William Bain, Head of Trade Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), told us that there had been an “increase in the levels of professional persons coming into the UK to perform business functions”, but a “massive fall in the number of lower-skilled workers who have been able to come into the UK”. He suggested that there was a link between this trend and the well-documented labour shortages that have recently been experienced in some sectors. Based on membership surveys conducted by the BCC, Mr Bain identified hospitality, catering and tourism; transport, logistics and storage; and production and manufacturing, as among those sectors that had been most severely impacted.
243.Lucy Monks, Head of International Affairs at the Federation of Small Businesses, indicated that the new arrangements had affected the ability for businesses to “recruit to fill skills gaps as they have emerged”. She emphasised that this was having a particularly significant impact on small businesses as they are less able to absorb additional costs that are now associated with recruitment from the EU, such as visa fees, compared to larger organisations.
244.Prof Portes suggested that the concentration of recruitment challenges in sectors where roles were previously filled by a large number of EU nationals could be attributed to the fact that many such roles, for instance in hospitality, do not qualify for the Government’s Skilled Worker Visa. This is mostly focused on the health sector and “high-productivity” service sector roles such as those in IT and finance.
245.Some witnesses argued that the Government’s Shortage Occupation List, specifying job types for which there is wider access to Skilled Worker visas, is drawn too narrowly. Mr Bain called for this to be “widened immediately so that we can release some of the pressure that care and hospitality are facing”. Ms Monks concurred, suggesting that “greater flexibilities could address the significant issues that businesses are facing today”. Emma Rowland, Policy Advisor at the Institute of Directors (IoD), indicated that her organisation also supported this proposal.
246.Ms Monks emphasised to us that many of the reported challenges relating to inbound mobility could be addressed domestically, without the need for negotiations with the EU or individual Member States. She accordingly proposed that the Government should “look at the things they can do, that are in their control now, to ease some of those burdens”.
247.We were told that patterns of outward business mobility have changed since Brexit. Drawing on IoD research, Ms Rowland said that members are “spending less time in the EU”. This has resulted in more work being conducted online, which she described as “second-best”. Professionals who needed to spend longer periods of time in the EU had reported that the new arrangements were particularly challenging, given the 90 in 180 day restriction, whereas there had been less impact on shorter-term travel.
248.Many witnesses emphasised the complexity of the regulations on working in the EU, with businesses and professionals often needing to take account of both the relevant provisions of the TCA and rules in individual Member States. In a typical comment, the City of London Corporation indicated that “understanding and navigating through these is time consuming and their interpretation can be difficult”. Mr Bain highlighted differences in arrangements for an intra-company transfer into the EU between a manager or skilled person, and a trainee. He suggested that in most cases “fairly specific HR advice” would be needed before these rules could be utilised, which is a particular challenge for smaller businesses.
249.By way of example, Ms Rowland referred to an IoD member who required a visa to work in Germany. The process for securing a visa had been “18 steps long”. There had been an application fee, and the member had also needed to provide a cover letter, CV, bank statements, a portfolio of previous work and authorisations, among other documents. This was further complicated by the documents needing to be completed in German, even though the member did not speak German. Ms Rowland suggested that such processes are serving as a disincentive to mobility, in particular for small businesses that are “looking to expand into the EU”.
250.We heard that the complexity of post-Brexit arrangements for business travel to the EU had been especially challenging for the legal sector. Marco Cillario, International Policy Manager at the Law Society of England and Wales, reported that a “lack of clarity” on mobility regulations was, in many cases, preventing lawyers from “even attempting to travel” to the EU. He noted that the “rules as to what someone can do as a short-term business visitor, what the conditions are to get a visa, the processing time and the cost” vary across the 27 Member States, which had added an extra layer of complexity. According to Mr Cillario, these barriers to mobility were “having a real impact on the competitiveness of the sector”.
251.The 90 in 180-day restriction on visa-free travel for work within the Schengen area has posed particular difficulties for the travel sector. Luke Petherbridge, Head of Public Policy at ABTA—The Travel Association, told us that travel businesses were facing “huge operational challenges” with getting staff into the EU. He emphasised that the 90-day limit is too short for seasonal workers in the tourism industry such as ski guides and travel representatives, who typically work abroad for up to six months each year. Mr Petherbridge also highlighted the case of coach drivers, who by the nature of their work were often required to be in the EU on more than 200 days per year before Brexit.
252.Witnesses indicated that the post-Brexit changes are having an especially significant impact on opportunities for workers to spend time overseas at a relatively early stage of their careers. The Centre for Inclusive Trade Policy noted that criteria for the right to work in the UK are “not usually designed for them, but rather skilled workers entering into labour markets with previous experience”. Referring to the specific context in the legal sector, Mr Cillario indicated that it had been traditional for UK lawyers to spend “six months during their training or immediately after they qualify in an EU Member State”, adding that this had “been important in the training and development of many lawyers who have then been successful in their careers”. This option is no longer available for lawyers working for firms that do not have offices in the EU and who are therefore unable take advantage of the intra-corporate transferee provisions in the TCA.
253.A common theme in the evidence that we heard was that Government guidance on business and professional travel to the EU could be improved. For instance, Ms Rowland told us that “there is not a huge amount of guidance in a central place on these issues”. She added that businesses are calling for “step-by-step guidance on exactly what they need to do that is easily accessible—maybe a central, easily searchable database that includes requirements for each country”. Calls for clearer guidance were also made by the City of London Corporation, the European and International Analysts Group and by various representatives of the creative industries.
254.We have taken a close interest in the challenges facing creative professionals seeking to work in the EU since the TCA came into force.
255.In this work we identified several areas of concern, including: insufficient Government engagement with creative professionals and industry bodies; inconsistent and inaccurate Government guidance for touring creative professionals; visa and work-permit arrangements that make it too complicated or expensive for many professionals to work and tour in the EU; cabotage and cross-border trade rules that make it difficult for specialist hauliers associated with touring to continue to operate between the UK and EU; and CITES regulations that significantly complicate travelling to the EU with musical instruments and limit the available routes of travel.
256.Deborah Annetts, Chief Executive of the Independent Society of Musicians, described post-Brexit arrangements as an “unmitigated disaster” for the music industry. She reported that “musicians are telling us that it is simply economically not viable to tour into the EU anymore”, referencing many of the issues that we have previously been made aware of and corresponded with the Government about.
257.Although some limited easements to visa and cabotage arrangements have been introduced since we first took evidence on this topic in 2021, Ms Annetts suggested that these have not fundamentally changed the situation facing touring musicians. While there are now “slightly better arrangements for mobility with Spain and Greece”, we were told that “nothing else has changed” on visa access. With regard to cabotage, a ‘dual registration’ scheme was introduced in May 2022, enabling operators with bases in both Britain and the EU to transfer vehicles between these. However, Ms Annetts explained that these arrangements can “work only for big hauliers that look after people like Elton John”, since typical British orchestras do not have access to a fleet of trucks or multiple bases. She added that on CITES the issues were “getting worse”, following the Government’s decision not to designate the Eurostar terminal at St Pancras International as a port where musical instrument certificates can be checked.
258.We received a large number of written submissions addressing the challenges facing the music industry. Many contained detailed proposals advocated by industry groups. These included: a package of financial support; reducing costs associated with carnets; creating a website with a single portal of information on touring in the EU; exemptions from cabotage regulations for organisations such as orchestras; a visa and work permit waiver for cultural workers; and an expansion of the list of designated CITES ports to cover St Pancras International. Some organisations proposed a broad “cultural exemption” to the provisions of the TCA, which would enable “unfettered movement” of specialist vehicles, personnel and merchandise. Ms Annetts also endorsed this idea.
259.It was emphasised to us that challenges associated with touring in the EU are having an especially severe impact on younger musicians, who have greater difficulty in meeting the requirements to secure visas and work permits. Ms Annetts explained that “[t]raditionally, the way to build your career[ … ] was to work in Europe”. However, she said that this is now much more difficult, since the “way some EU states operate their work permits discriminates against youngsters who do not have a significant musical reputation”.
260.While the music industry has been the most vocal in highlighting mobility challenges facing creative professionals, the evidence that we received suggested that similar issues are being experienced by other sectors. The Contemporary Visual Arts Network indicated that the work of visual artists “does not easily fit within the new procedures and regulations”, with individuals and organisations “struggling to understand and comply with them”. They reported that fewer UK-EU collaborations had taken place since the UK left the EU and that, within the EU, the UK is seen as “less of a natural partner than previously”. Meanwhile, the City of London Corporation highlighted various challenges experienced by the Barbican Centre, which it manages, including additional administrative burdens associated with bringing materials that form part of theatre sets into the UK. It called for a “blanket agreement for the entertainment industry” that would enable UK and EU artists to move freely from and to the EU and UK, which would also cover associated freight.
261.Ms Annetts was critical of the role of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in addressing the challenges faced by the creative industries. She told us that, in her experience, meetings of the Department’s Touring Working Group “just go around in circles”. This has led her to the view that “DCMS simply does not have the teeth to tackle some of these problems”. The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Music also criticised the Government’s approach, noting that a “consistent complaint from the sector has been the perception that there is no one Department holding the pen on tackling these issues”. UK Music similarly indicated that the sector feels “caught between departments”.
262.Our own experience of engagement with the Government on this matter has been similarly frustrating. Although Ministers have frequently indicated that the Government recognises some of the concerns raised by representatives of creative professionals and wants to help, there have not been sustained attempts to actively resolve these issues through discussions with the EU.
263.The Minister for Europe told us that the Government was “aware” of the challenges facing creative professionals seeking to work in Europe. He undertook that the Government would “continue to raise this with the Commission in due course to get the outcome we want”. The issue was subsequently discussed at the meeting of the Partnership Council held on 24 March 2023.
264.The end of free movement of people between the UK and the EU has inevitably resulted in new barriers to business and professional mobility, in both directions. The precise impact has varied greatly between sectors. We urge the Government to continue to monitor the implications of the domestic migration rules introduced following Brexit and the provisions of the TCA for mobility between the UK and the EU. The Government should be prepared to adjust visa eligibility criteria in response to labour shortages in specific sectors and we ask the Government to describe how it is managing this in its response to this report. The Government must also raise concerns about outward mobility arrangements with the EU and individual Member States. We ask the Government where, within the TCA institutional structure, this is being addressed.
265.The evidence that we have considered suggests that the complexity of the post-Brexit rules is a significant barrier to mobility. We accordingly recommend that the Government strengthens its guidance on business and professional travel between the UK and EU Member States, making it more straightforward to navigate and interpret, including for small businesses and independent professionals. We believe that the guidance needs to be dynamically updated.
266.We are disappointed that very little progress has been made in addressing the challenges faced by creative professionals wishing to work and tour in the EU, despite the Government having been aware of these problems for a considerable period of time. We recommend that these issues are now taken up with the EU as a priority by FCDO ministers. In its response we ask the Government to detail which TCA Specialised Committee is considering these issues. This matter should also be raised with the Commission at the Partnership Council and we ask the Government to request that they be included on the agenda for the next meeting.
267.Negotiations with the EU and individual Member States to address the barriers to mobility of creative professionals that have been identified should be continued with vigour. We ask the Government to provide an update on engagement with the EU and individual Member States on this matter in its response to this report.
268.Many of the barriers to business and professional mobility highlighted by witnesses may be partially addressed through a reciprocal youth mobility arrangement with the EU and/or individual Member States. This possibility is discussed in the final section of this chapter.
269.Research conducted by organisations representing the travel industry has found that the number of students sent to the UK by European operators that organise school trips and other educational, cultural or sport-related group travel was 83% lower in 2022 compared to 2019, the last pre-COVID-19 pandemic year before the TCA came into force. This is consistent with the findings of a previous survey conducted in June 2022, and with a media report in 2021, in which a spokesperson for a French operator described trips to the UK as “almost unsaleable”.
270.We were told that the requirement for all pupils to have individual passports to enter the UK, whereas they could previously have entered under a group document through the EU List of Travellers Scheme or travelled with ID cards, was a major factor behind this decline. Joss Croft, Chief Executive Officer at UKinbound, suggested that “[a] large proportion of EU students simply does not have one”. He said that obtaining a passport is both a “hassle” and had a financial cost, which is serving as a deterrent to organise trips to the UK rather than other EU destinations. It was explained to us that there is an ethos of “inclusivity” in the organisation of school trips in some parts of the EU, which means that schools are reluctant to travel without pupils who cannot easily obtain relevant travel documents, such as third-country nationals.
271.Stephen Lowy, Chair of the British Educational Travel Association, added that there had also been an “initial impact in terms of sentiment” towards the UK as a destination after Brexit, with research conducted by VisitBritain finding that “younger people from mainly northern Europe were less engaged to choose a school trip to the UK because they felt less welcome”.
272.Unsurprisingly, COVID-19 restrictions also had a significant impact on school visits to the UK from the EU. Nevertheless, witnesses emphasised that the decline in such visits has been markedly more severe for the UK compared to other European destinations. For instance, the reduction in the number of school visits to Ireland organised by the operators that were surveyed in 2022 was 29% compared to 2019, considerably lower than the 83% figure for the UK. Mr Lowy attributed this to some schools that had previously organised trips to the UK now choosing EU destinations, adding that “Malta and Ireland in particular seem to have done very well out of the restrictions that we have put in place here”.
273.Witnesses argued that the decline in school visits to the UK was regrettable on both economic and cultural grounds. UKinbound highlighted research that suggested that the decline in school group visits was forecast to result in an £875 million loss of revenue and the loss of 14,500 jobs. Meanwhile, Mr Lowy described the situation as a “huge loss of soft power”, saying that “it upsets me that a lot of young European kids will miss out on experiencing that joy of travel at that age here, in the formative part of life when you get those experiences and fall in love with a country”.
274.Mr Lowy indicated that it was “probably slightly easier for Brits to go into Europe” for school visits than vice versa. However, he reported that there had been some “issues at the border” during 2022, which had resulted in some students on school trips from the UK to the EU being delayed or “unable to go through” passport control. There were similar long delays affecting school trips in April 2023.
275.We heard that the UK’s withdrawal from the EU’s Erasmus+ funding programme had also had some impact on school travel. Rhammel Afflick, Head of Advocacy and Communications at the British Youth Council, told us that “almost none” of the projects previously funded by Erasmus+ involving school-age children are now being funded through the Government’s Turing scheme (discussed in more detail later in the chapter). He said that this has resulted in a “huge shortfall in funding” to support cooperation across Europe through projects focused on “developing young people’s skills”, “gaining vital international experience” and “boosting their employability”.
276.The Minister for Europe acknowledged that school visits from the EU to the UK was a “very difficult” issue and said that it had been raised with him by European counterparts. He indicated that the Government was “working on it, but there is no progress as yet”.
277.Witnesses representing the travel sector proposed that a new youth group travel scheme for under 18s travelling from the EU should be introduced, which would be similar to the EU List of Travellers Scheme that the UK participated in previously. UKinbound made a specific proposal for such a scheme:
“It would allow students under the age of 18 that have an ID card, and therefore the right to live in the EU, and third country nationals that have settled in the EU, to travel to the UK to take part in an English language school, undertake a school trip or take part in a cultural or sporting activity, if accompanied by a teacher or supervisor over 18 years old that is travelling on a passport.”
278.Mr Lowy supported this and added that the arrangement should be reciprocated “to allow easy travel for our young British students on school trips to Europe”.
279.The Government has previously argued that the move away from the List of Travellers Scheme was necessary to “strengthen the security of our border”. However, our travel sector witnesses questioned whether this statement was supported by evidence. Mr Croft said that he had “not been able to find out the figures on abscondments but it is not hugely credible to imagine that these children, whose parents are waiting for them to return home, will abscond”. Meanwhile, Mr Lowy noted that the visa regime for university students is “one of the safest we have”, with 98% of students leaving on time. UKinbound nevertheless indicated that the travel industry would be open to consultation on the details of a new group travel scheme for under 18s, for instance on the possibility of “additional vetting processes that would uphold the UK’s security processes”.
280.Mr Henricson-Bell told us that “almost half” of the false documents detected at the border in 2020 were ID cards, which he said is “partly what stands behind” the decision to require individual passports. However, he was not able to provide statistics about the security of the previous List of Travellers scheme for under 18s. In subsequent correspondence the Minister for Europe indicated that there is “no specific evidence that the List of Travellers Scheme was being used as a route for illegal entry”.
281.We note that the Joint Leaders’ Declaration that was issued following the Anglo-French summit held on 10 March 2023 refers to the UK having “committed to ease the travel of school groups to the UK by making changes to documentary requirements for schoolchildren on organised trips from France”. It also refers to France having committed “to ensuring appropriate mechanisms are in place for visa free travel for children travelling on organised school trips from the United Kingdom and to facilitating the passage of those groups through the border”. No more specific details are yet available.
282.We would also highlight that the Welsh Government’s Taith scheme, introduced in 2022, provides some financial support for inbound school group mobility. Susana Galván, Taith’s Executive Director, explained that “[w]ith Taith, a Welsh organisation can apply for funding to send people out of Wales to X country, and it can also get funding to bring people into Wales from that point”. This is different from the UK Government’s Turing scheme which only provides funding for outbound mobility, including some funding for schools. More details about the Taith scheme are included later in this chapter, in Box 6.
283.We consider school visits between the UK and the EU to have substantial value as a means of exposing children to different cultures. We agree with our witnesses that the large decline in inbound school visitors to the UK from the EU will have a considerable long-term cultural impact, as well as having a significant economic impact.
284.We welcome the references to reciprocal steps to facilitate school visits in the Joint Leaders’ Declaration issued following the Anglo-French summit on 10 March 2023. We ask the Government to provide more detail about the proposed “changes to documentary requirements” for inbound school visitors from France in its response to this report, and to provide us with an update on progress towards implementation of this commitment.
285.We recommend that the Government should reintroduce a youth group travel scheme that would not require pupils travelling on school visits from any EU country to carry individual passports. This scheme should be designed with appropriate safeguards to ensure that any risks to border security are minimised.
286.We additionally recommend that the Government, through its embassies in EU Member States, should initiate a campaign to actively promote educational group travel to the UK, with the aim of reversing the decline in visitor numbers.
287.We also urge the Government to explore the possibility of including reciprocal funding for school group mobility within the Turing scheme, which would provide additional support for visits to the UK. Such arrangements could draw on the experience of the Taith programme that has been introduced by the Welsh Government.
288.The UK has great strengths in higher education and research. This is reflected in the UK typically ranking second, behind only the United States of America, as a preferred destination for overseas students. In 2020/21 there were over 150,000 students from the EU enrolled on courses in the UK.
289.Since the end of the post-Brexit transition period there has been a big change in the profile of international students studying at UK universities. According to official statistics, the number of newly enrolled students that are domiciled in the EU dropped by 53% from 2020/21 to 2021/22. However, there was a 32% rise in non-EU student enrolments, which have reached a record level.
290.These trends are consistent with the expected impact of post-Brexit policy changes. EU students are no longer able to benefit from home student fee rates at UK universities, as was the case until 2021, and they must also now secure student visas in the same way as other international students. Meanwhile, the introduction of a new post-study work visa by the Government (the Graduate Immigration Route) has provided an additional incentive for non-EU international students to study in the UK compared to previous arrangements.
291.Ellie Gomersall, representing the National Union of Students, emphasised that there has been a “drastic change in the cost of studying in the UK for EU students”. As well as now needing to pay international student fee rates, prospective students from the EU are also exposed to other additional costs such as those associated with securing a visa. Charley Robinson, Head of Global Mobility Policy at Universities UK International, put it that the UK is “suddenly seen as more expensive, more complicated and less welcoming as a study destination”.
292.Anne-Marie Graham, Chief Executive at the UK Council for International Student Affairs, characterised the visa system that EU students are now subject to as “overly complex and lengthy”, nothing that this was leading “poor experiences, and poor experiences tend to translate into people passing that messaging on through word of mouth”. She accordingly argued that “it is critical that accessibility is improved and complexity reduced for EU students coming to the UK”.
293.Witnesses that we heard from on this topic stressed the cultural, as well as economic, benefits that students from the EU brought to UK universities. Ms Gomersall argued that the presence of EU students was “a good thing for us as home students in terms of the enrichment and the fantastic cultural impact that international students bring to our own studies”. Meanwhile, Ms Robinson noted that European students “contribute to the diversity of students in the classroom” across a “broad range of subjects”, whereas non-EU international students tend to be more concentrated in particular subject areas such as engineering and business.
294.The post-Brexit changes to arrangements for studying abroad have also affected students from the UK wanting to study in the EU. Ms Gomersall explained that a “UK student wishing to study in Germany would face the same challenges” as EU students in the UK, including the need to pay for a visa. She said this “adds to the huge barrier to students from disadvantaged backgrounds” studying outside the UK.
295.During the TCA negotiations the Government opted not to pursue continued participation in the EU’s Erasmus+ programme, which provides funding for student exchanges, citing the cost involved and that the Treasury had become a “net contributor”.
296.In 2021 the Government established a new study abroad scheme, called the Turing scheme. Turing is global in scope rather than being focused on Europe, and compared to Erasmus+ more of the placements it funds are for shorter periods (e.g. summer schools) rather than the full academic year. It only covers outward placements and not inbound visits, so it is not a reciprocal scheme in the same way as Erasmus+.
297.We heard that Turing has some significant strengths. Ms Robinson said that, in principle, it “creates very good opportunities for UK students to go abroad and creates a vehicle to allow UK institutions to continue partnerships with European institutions”. She welcomed the fact that the scheme is global, and she said that its “flexibility” had “been incredibly helpful to widen participation”. Lindsay Hirst, a researcher at the University of Cambridge, indicated to us that Turing has been “mostly successful at achieving its objectives” of increasing non-EU study abroad and widening accessibility.
298.Ms Robinson told us that 38,000 mobilities were planned for the second year of Turing, around double the number of UK students who participated in Erasmus+ annually. She referred to this as a “step change in the number of students that the UK sends abroad”.
299.Nevertheless, our witnesses typically regretted the absence of any provisions for inward mobility to be supported through Turing. Ms Graham indicated that the experience of reciprocity under Erasmus+ is that it is “a great showcase for our UK education system”, adding that “students who come here on an exchange or short-term programme, particularly at undergraduate level, might come back, spend their money on a postgraduate course and come through that visa immigration system”. Ms Robinson agreed that the lack of reciprocity was “one issue with the Turing scheme as it currently stands”. Meanwhile, Ms Gomersall reflected on her own experience as a student and how she had benefited from the friends that she had been able to make among students undertaking Erasmus+ placements.
300.Witnesses also raised several other concerns about the operation of Turing, in comparison to Erasmus+. These included the absence of provisions to support staff mobility, limited funding for non-university exchanges and the need to submit fresh funding bids on an annual basis, often for similar projects, which Ms Robinson described as “incredibly burdensome”.
301.The Welsh Government has introduced a separate global educational exchange scheme called Taith, launched in 2022. Its Executive Director explained to us that “[t]he ethos of Taith is to fill the gap left by the decision to leave Erasmus+”. Ms Galván emphasised that it is an “all-inclusive programme, accessible and available to all the learning sectors across Wales”, and that a “key aspect is reciprocity”, so that there is a “two-directional aspect to the programme”. She noted that the scheme runs in parallel with Turing in Wales, with care taken to avoid “double funding” of projects. Some further details about the scheme are provided in Box 7.
The Welsh Government announced plans to introduce a new student exchange programme in March 2021, after the UK-EU TCA contained no provisions for UK institutions to continue participating in the Erasmus+ programme. It said that the new programme “would enable learners and staff, both from Wales and those who come to study or work in Wales, to continue to benefit from international exchanges in a similar way to the opportunities that flowed from Erasmus+, not just in Europe but also further afield”. It was stressed that “reciprocity” would be a fundamental feature of the programme and that it would therefore include provision for inward mobility. In the first instance it was expected that 15,000 outward mobility exchanges from Wales would be funded, and 10,000 inward mobility exchanges into Wales, over the five-year period from 2022 to 2026. The announcement indicated that the programme would be supported by an investment of £65 million by the Welsh Government.
The programme was named Taith (“a journey” in Welsh). A strategy was published in January 2022. This begins by stating that “[s]tudying, volunteering or taking a work placement abroad broadens people’s horizons, expands their skills, and brings benefits to communities and organisations here in Wales”. It is argued that participants from Wales “will serve as Wales’ ambassadors to the world, carrying our message that Wales is outward-looking, collaborative, and open to educational innovation”, while inward visitors will “enrich our education and youth sectors with new approaches and ideas and will bring even greater diversity and culture to classrooms and campuses in our bilingual country”.
Taith was formally launched in March 2022, with the first exchanges commencing in September 2022. Calls for funding bids are split into three “pathways”. Pathway 1 supports direct mobility of participants, pathway 2 supports partnership and strategic collaboration between institutions, and pathway 3 supports capacity building. The programme is open to a wide range of educational institutions, including schools, youth organisations and further education providers, as well as universities.
302.Ms Galván told us that funding from the initial round of Taith funded projects is expected to “produce more than 6,000 mobilities”, including both inward and outward. She indicated that the majority of these involve European institutions, often building on partnerships that were previously supported through Erasmus+.
303.Dr Royles said that it was her understanding that there had been an “enthusiastic welcome” for Taith in the EU. She explained that the “aims of Taith are aligned with those of Erasmus, which should make it possible for European partners to participate more easily” than through Turing.
304.The Scottish Government has also announced plans for a reciprocal scheme, the Scottish Education Exchange Programme, but details are yet to be announced. During our visit to Edinburgh Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, the Principal of Glasgow University, told us that universities in Scotland have been positive about Taith and are encouraging the Scottish Government to deliver a similar scheme.
305.Some witnesses suggested that a reciprocal scheme similar to Taith could be introduced across the UK. Ms Graham said that it is “definitely a model that we can look at”, and that the UK Government could “probably learn a lot as it develops and builds”. Meanwhile, Ms Gomersall argued that a UK-wide programme along the lines of Taith would “bring significant opportunities” for students.
306.Other witnesses proposed that the UK might seek to re-engage with Erasmus+, even at this stage. The European and International Analysts Group recommended that the Government should seek to “link” Turing and Erasmus+. It was also suggested to us that the arrangement in place in Switzerland, under which participation in Erasmus+ is funded through its own budget, is a precedent that could be followed in the UK.
307.Lord Hague was among those who argued that the Government should seek to establish some form of reciprocal student exchange programme. He said that the Government has set up a “very good Turing scheme”, but a “two-way flow is extremely important” and “[w]e will need reciprocal arrangements for European students to come to the UK”.
308.We asked the Minister for Europe whether there were plans to introduce a scheme similar to Taith in England. In response, he told us that the Government was “open-minded and we look with great interest at the extent to which we might operate a similar scheme”. He acknowledged that participation in Erasmus+ had been “very beneficial” to the UK.
309.Horizon Europe is the EU’s key funding programme for research and innovation, with a budget of €95.5bn until 2027. Alongside the TCA, the UK and EU reached agreement in principle on a Joint Declaration that set out the Parties’ intention for the UK to associate with Horizon Europe, alongside several other EU programmes.
310.Despite this agreement in principle, the UK’s association to Horizon Europe has not been finalised. The delay was a consequence of the dispute between the Parties over the implementation of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland. Concerns have been repeatedly raised by scientists, researchers, and universities in both the UK and the EU over the detrimental consequences of this delay, which has created uncertainty and led to fears that researchers from the EU may choose to leave the UK if they are not able to access Horizon funding.
311.When asked about Horizon association, witnesses urged the UK and the EU to reach an agreement. Prof Stubb described it as a “no-brainer”, adding that “we need to have a free flow not only of finance, but of people and ideas between the United Kingdom and the European Union”. Meanwhile, Prof Ignatieff argued that the “sooner this is resolved, the better”. He stressed that “some of the finest universities in Europe” are in the UK and told us that there is a “keenness among European universities to find and develop these partnerships with the British simply because of the quality of the institutions”.
312.In a press conference following the conclusion of the agreement on the Windsor Framework the President of the Commission indicated that the EU would be “happy to start immediately the work” on an agreement for UK association to Horizon Europe once the Framework had been implemented.
313.The matter was discussed at the meeting of the Partnership Council, held on 24 March 2023. The Joint Statement issued following this meeting “noted the openness of both sides to take forward discussions on association in the coming weeks”. The Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology subsequently met with the European Commissioner for Research and Innovation to “discuss the UK’s expectations around association to Horizon Europe” on 4 April 2023.
314.The substantial reduction in the number of EU students enrolling at UK universities is an inevitable consequence of these students no longer being eligible to pay home fees and of the introduction of other additional barriers to studying in the UK, such as the need to secure a visa.
315.We agree with our witnesses that EU students bring considerable benefits to UK universities, widening the diversity of the student population and facilitating cultural exchange. We therefore recommend that the Government should work to ensure that barriers to enrolment such as challenges in obtaining visas are minimised.
316.We welcome the fact that the Turing scheme has supported a substantial number of outward mobility experiences since its launch. The scheme has significant strengths, including its flexibility in terms of the types of mobility that are supported and its focus on widening participation.
317.Nevertheless, we regret that the Government did not explore the possibility of a reciprocal student exchange programme that would enable the benefits that visiting students from the EU bring to English universities—including the long-term cultural impact—to be maintained. The Taith scheme introduced by the Welsh Government is a good model for how a reciprocal student exchange scheme can operate post-Brexit.
318.Accordingly, we recommend that the Government should now explore with the higher education sector the possibility of adding a reciprocal element to the Turing scheme, drawing on the experience of Taith. Within these discussions, the Government should also consider whether there is scope for domestic student exchange schemes such as Turing and Taith to run alongside any resumed participation in aspects of Erasmus+, which would need to be negotiated with the EU.
319.We reiterate our view that UK association to Horizon Europe and other EU research programmes would be a win-win for the UK and the EU. Now that agreement has been reached on the Windsor Framework, the necessary steps to complete UK association should be concluded as soon as possible.
320.A common theme that has run through this chapter is that post-Brexit barriers to mobility between the UK and the EU, in both directions, have had an especially significant impact on young people. This includes workers and professionals in the early stages of their careers, as well as students across different educational levels.
321.Witnesses representing a large number of different sectors proposed to us that that the UK and the EU should negotiate a youth mobility arrangement. This was typically envisaged as a reciprocal scheme under which people up to a certain age limit would be able to apply for fixed-term visas to travel and work in the other partner, without meeting eligibility requirements for other types of visa such as salary thresholds. As discussed below, this would be similar to existing reciprocal youth mobility schemes that the UK and EU Member States operate with other partner countries.
322.Some witnesses emphasised the potential economic advantages. For instance, Ms Monks suggested that there would be “huge benefits” to an arrangement that would “[b]ring in workers for a couple of years who might be attracted to live in the UK”, some of whom may be “highly skilled” and some of whom could “fill other roles in the economy”. She added that there would also be “clear benefits to EU member states from having access to workers from the UK”. Mr Bain agreed that a youth mobility agreement would “add quite a bit” in economic terms, noting the generosity of the agreement between the UK and Australia (see Table 3, below).
323.Mr Petherbridge said that a youth mobility arrangement would benefit both the inbound and outbound travel sectors. He noted that schemes had been agreed in other recent trade agreements and suggested that it “seems illogical that we will not look at it with our nearest economic partners”, the EU. Meanwhile, Mr Cillario argued that youth mobility schemes would be “important for the legal sector”, especially those firms without offices in the EU, and called on the Government to enter negotiations on this “now”. Ms Annetts was in favour as well, telling us that a youth mobility scheme would be “important in creating opportunities for emerging artists and youngsters generally, so that we do not lose the concept of collaboration from the UK into the EU and vice versa”.
324.We heard that students could also potentially benefit from a youth mobility arrangement with the EU. Ms Robinson told us that such a scheme “could be very useful to plug a gap that we currently have in the lack of an internship and work placement route for European students”.
325.Witnesses additionally argued that a youth mobility arrangement could help to promote cultural ties with the EU. For example, Mr Croft suggested that “for the types of people undertaking the youth mobility scheme this is about building lifetime value and those lifetime allegiances to the United Kingdom”. He noted that the cultural benefits would be reciprocated as people from the UK would also be able to travel to the EU under the scheme. In a similar vein, Mr Lowy spoke about the other benefits from youth mobility schemes, for example lasting personal and business connections that might be established while participating.
326.Lord Hague told us that he was in favour of a youth mobility arrangement with the EU, noting that there was currently a scheme for people from Iceland but not France. He said that the UK should “want young people from the EU to spend time in the UK, and vice versa”.
327.The Minister for Europe described youth mobility schemes as “very important” and said that the Government would “always be looking for additional opportunities to achieve whatever is possible in this area”. He indicated that ministers would be open to discussing the matter with the Commission.
328.As has already been noted there are existing precedents for youth mobility arrangements, involving both the UK and major EU countries. A summary of the key provisions of selected examples is provided in Table 3.
Name of scheme
Length of stay
Working Holiday visa
Up to 12 months (with possibility of extension for up to 3 years)
Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Taiwan, UK
18–30 (18—35 for selected countries. It has been agreed that this will include the UK within two years of the UK-Australia Free Trade Agreement coming into force)
Cannot include family members or be accompanied by children. Must have proof of around A$5000.
Young traveller (working holiday)
Up to 12 months (extension possible for participants from Canada only)
Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, South Korea, Japan, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Mexico, Peru, Russia, Taiwan, Uruguay
18–30 (18–35 for selected countries)
Cannot be accompanied by children. Must have sufficient financial resources for start of stay.
Working Holiday programme/ Youth Mobility Programme
Up to 12 months
Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Uruguay
18–30 (18–35 for Canada only)
Cannot be accompanied by children. Some restrictions on permitted work, depending on country of origin. Proof of funds required.
Working Holiday Visa
Up to 12 months
Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand
18–30 (18–35 for Canada only)
Cannot work for more than six months. Proof of funds required.
Youth Mobility Scheme
Up to 2 years (It has been agreed that this will be extended to three years for Australia within two years of the UK-Australia Free Trade Agreement coming into force)
Australia, Canada, Monaco, New Zealand, San Marino, Iceland
Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan (via annual ballot)
India (India Young Professionals Scheme)
18–30 (It has been agreed that this will be extended to 18–35 for Australia within two years of the UK-Australia Free Trade Agreement coming into force)
Cannot bring in family members, or apply if you have children under the age of 18 that live with you. Cannot access public funds. Must have proof of £2530. Participants in the India Young Professionals Scheme need to hold a degree or have three years’ skilled work experience.
Source: Australian Government, ‘First Working Holiday Visa’: [accessed 25 April 2023], German Missions in the United Kingdom, ‘D-Visa: Working Holiday’: [accessed 25 April 2023], Visaguide.world, ‘Spain Working Holiday Visa’: [accessed 25 April 2023], GOV.UK, ‘Youth Mobility Scheme visa’: [accessed 25 April 2023][accessed 25 April 2023], French Government, ‘Young traveller (working holiday):
329.A notable recent example involving the UK is the extended scheme that has been agreed with Australia, under the free trade agreement that was concluded in 2021, though this is not yet in force. This provides for three-year visas (rather than the normal one or two years) and is open to people up to the age of 35 (rather than 30, as is more typical under other schemes). Some witnesses proposed that these terms should be replicated under any UK-EU agreement. For instance, Ms Monks argued that an age limit of 35 would reflect “the length of education and the general lifestyles and economic shifts that we have seen in the UK and across the world”. She cited the examples of architects, who must complete a seven-year qualification process before taking professional roles, and suggested that an upper limit of 35 would ensure that the scheme could “capture those groups of people as well”.
330.The reciprocal nature of typical youth mobility arrangements, as well as the fixed-term length of visas, was emphasised to us. Witnesses argued that these features meant that the merits of agreeing such a scheme with the EU should be considered separately from wider debates about appropriate levels of immigration, since similar numbers of people would be expected to benefit from the scheme in both directions and those coming to the UK would have no permanent right to remain. The UK’s existing Youth Mobility Scheme visa also has annual caps on numbers for each participating jurisdiction.
331.While witnesses were strongly supportive of a youth mobility arrangement, we were warned that the detail of this could be complex to negotiate. Ms Robinson stressed that developing reciprocal agreements would “take a long time” and that it would therefore not be a “quick fix” for current mobility challenges. In practice, reconciling the different features of the respective schemes so that they can operate reciprocally may be the most challenging aspect.
332.There is some debate within the EU about the extent to which the Commission and/or individual Member States exercise competence on matters relating to youth mobility. Although existing youth mobility arrangements have been negotiated bilaterally by individual Member States, Mr Cillario told us that “the Commission is keen to assert its role when it comes to EU-wide matters”. He recommended that the Government should take up issues relating to mobility in general with the Commission.
333.Post-Brexit changes to arrangements for mobility between the UK and the EU have had a particularly significant impact on younger people. We therefore recommend that the Government should approach the EU about the possibility of entering negotiations around an ambitious reciprocal youth mobility partnership. In common with existing youth mobility arrangements that the UK and individual EU Member States have agreed with other jurisdictions, this would allow young people to apply for fixed-term visas to travel and work in the other partner on preferential terms.
334.Now that the UK has left the EU, questions about the exercise of EU competence are no longer our immediate concern. Nevertheless, the simplicity of agreeing with the Commission a single youth mobility arrangement that applies across the EU (rather than 27 separate arrangements) is attractive to us. We therefore recommend that as a first step the Government explores this possibility with the EU.
335.We recommend that any such scheme should ideally be reciprocal, that numbers should be capped and that participants should have no automatic permanent residence rights in the country that they visit. We anticipate that the establishment of a UK-EU youth mobility partnership along these lines would have little impact on wider levels of immigration.
366 The only exception to this is mobility between the UK and Ireland, as the UK-Ireland Common Travel Area was preserved under the Withdrawal Agreement.
367 These are explained in the EU Services Sub-Committee Beyond Brexit report March 2021, Box 2. European Union Committee, (23rd Report, Session 2019–21, HL Paper 248)
368 Written evidence from UK in a Changing Europe ()
369 Written Evidence from Professor Jonathan Portes ()
370 (Charley Robinson), (Marco Cillario, Deborah Annetts and Luke Petherbridge)
371 (William Bain)
372 For discussion of the various factors contributing to labour shortages in the UK see Economic Affairs Committee, (2nd Report, Session 2022–23, HL Paper 115).
373 (William Bain)
374 (Lucy Monks)
375 (Lucy Monks) and written evidence from The Federation of Small Businesses ()
376 Written Evidence from Professor Jonathan Portes ()
378 (William Bain)
379 (Lucy Monks)
380 (Emma Rowland)
381 (Lucy Monks)
382 (Emma Rowland)
385 Written evidence from City of London Corporation ()
386 (William Bain)
388 (Emma Rowland)
390 (Marco Cillario)
393 (Luke Petherbridge)
394 Written evidence from Centre for Inclusive Trade Policy ()
395 (Marco Cillario)
396 (Emma Rowland)
398 Written evidence from City of London Corporation (), European and International Analysts Group (), Contemporary Visual Arts Network () LIVE () and Association of British Orchestras ()
399 Oral evidence taken before the European Affairs Committee, Movement of creative professionals, 14 September 2021 We have subsequently engaged in extensive correspondence with the Government European Affairs Committee, ‘Movement of creative professionals: Correspondence’: .
400 (Deborah Annetts)
402 We note that the UK has additionally agreed a Joint Declaration with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein outlining entry routes for touring artists and musicians. Department for International Trade, ‘UK-Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein FTA: joint declaration on culture and entertainment’ (16 July 2021): [accessed 25 April 2023]
403 (Deborah Annetts)
404 Department for Transport, ‘Major boost for live music and touring industry specialist hauliers to move more freely between countries’ (6 May 2022): [accessed 25 April 2023]
405 (Deborah Annetts)
406 Written evidence from UK Music (), APPG on Music (), Musicians’ Union (), The Independent Society of Musicians (), LIVE (), Association of British Orchestras () and Fred Hale ()
407 Written evidence from APPG on Music (), Musicians’ Union () and LIVE ()
408 (Deborah Annetts)
410 (Deborah Annetts). See also written evidence from UK Music ().
411 Written evidence from Contemporary Visual Arts Network ()
413 Written evidence from City of London Corporation ()
414 (Deborah Annetts)
415 Written evidence from APPG on Music ()
416 Written evidence from Association of British Orchestras ()
417 European Affairs Committee, ‘Movement of creative professionals: Correspondence’:
418 (Leo Docherty MP)
420 HL Deb, 17 April 2023,
421 Tourism Alliance, The Economic impact of the requirement for EU students on school trips to have passports to enter the UK (November 2022): [accessed 25 April 2023]
422 Tourism Alliance, Student Group Travel Survey Results (June 2022): [accessed 25 April 2023] and “‘Almost unsaleable’: slump in school trips to UK blamed on Brexit”, The Guardian (26 Dec 2021): [accessed 25 April 2023]
423 (Joss Croft)
425 Written evidence from Co-ordinators of a group of Blue Badge Tourist Guides ()
426 (Stephen Lowy)
427 (Joss Croft). See also Tourism Alliance, Student Group Travel Survey Results (June 2022): [accessed 25 April 2023].
428 (Stephen Lowy)
429 Written evidence from UKinbound ()
430 (Stephen Lowy)
431 (Stephen Lowy)
433 Dover delays: Long waits persist for coach passengers, BBC News (3 April 2023): [accessed 25 April 2023]
434 (Rhammel Afflick)
436 (Leo Docherty MP)
437 (Leo Docherty MP)
438 Written evidence from UKinbound ()
439 (Stephen Lowy)
440 ‘Almost unsaleable: slump in school trips to UK blamed on Brexit’, The Guardian (26 December 2021): [accessed 25 April 2023]
441 (Joss Croft)
442 (Stephen Lowy)
443 Written evidence from UKinbound ()
444 (Olaf Henricson-Bell)
445 Letter from Leo Docherty MP to the Chair (30 March 2023):
446 Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street, UK-France Joint Leaders’ Declaration (March 2023): [accessed 25 April 2023]
448 (Susana Galván)
449 (Charley Robinson)
450 HESA, ‘Where do HE students come from?’ (31 January 2023): [accessed 13 April 2023]
451 HESA, ‘Higher Education Student Statistics: UK, 2021/22 - Where students come from and go to study’ (19 January 2023): [accessed 13 April 2023]
452 EU students studying in Scotland did not pay tuition fees, in line with the policy for Scottish students.
453 (Ellie Gomersall)
454 (Charley Robinson)
455 ,(Anne-Marie Graham)
456 (Anne-Marie Graham)
457 (Ellie Gomersall)
458 (Charley Robinson)
459 (Charley Robinson)
460 (Ellie Gomersall)
462 “UK pulls out of EU’s ‘extremely expensive’ Erasmus scheme”, Politico (24 December 2021): [accessed 25 April 2023]. The former European Union Committee’s EU Services Sub-Committee stated that it was “deeply concerned” about this decision, which it anticipated would “limit the opportunities for UK students in the immediate short term and could harm the prospects for UK universities in the future”. , para 274
463 Department for Education, ‘Turing scheme to open up global study and work opportunities’: [accessed 13 April 2023]
464 (Charley Robinson)
466 Written evidence from Lindsay Hirst ()
467 (Charley Robinson)
468 (AnneMarie Graham)
469 (Charley Robinson)
470 (Ellie Gomersall)
471 (Anne-Marie Graham, Ellie Gomersall and Charley Robinson)
472 (Susana Galván)
473 (Susana Galván)
474 Welsh Government, ‘New International Learning Exchange programme to make good the loss of Erasmus+’ (21 March 2021): [accessed 25 April 2023]
475 Taith, Taith Programme Strategy: Introducing the International Student Exchange Programme for Wales (January 2022): [accessed 25 April 2023]
476 Taith, ‘Funding opportunities’: [accessed 13 April 2023]
477 (Susana Galván)
478 (Dr Elin Royles)
480 ‘Scottish Government under fire for delay to replacement for Erasmus exchange scheme’, The Scotsman (31 May 2022): [accessed 25 April 2023]
481 European Affairs Committee, ‘Edinburgh Visit Notes, January 2023’:
482 (Anne-Marie Graham)
483 (Ellie Gomersall)
484 Written evidence from European and International Analysts Group ()
485 Written evidence from Colleagues from Université Catholique de l’Ouest, Angers campus () and Coventry University Group ()
486 (Lord Hague)
487 (Leo Docherty MP)
489 Declarations referred to in the Council Decision on the signing on behalf of the Union, and on a provisional application of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement and of the Agreement concerning security procedures for exchanging and protecting classified information, 30 December 2021, . The other EU programmes referred to are Copernicus (Earth observation), the research and training programme of Euratom (nuclear energy) and the international component of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (fusion energy).
490 We held a non-inquiry evidence session on this subject on 1 February 2022. We subsequently sent several letters to Government ministers, as well as to the Commission and the relevant Committee in the European Parliament, calling on the Parties to depoliticise the issue and reach an agreement in the mutual interests of both the UK and the EU. In the course of this chain of correspondence ministers have agreed with us, on multiple occasions, that UK association to Horizon Europe would be a “win-win” for the UK and the EU. See also Letter from Rt Hon Michelle Donelan MP to Lord Kinnoull (6 April 2023):
491 For example “Scientists campaign for UK and Switzerland to join EU programme”, Financial Times (8 February 2022): Available at [accessed 25 April 2023]
492 (Prof Alexander Stubb)
493 (Michael Ignatieff)
495 President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, ‘Statement at the joint press conference with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’ (27 February 2023): [accessed 25 April 2023]
496 Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, ‘Joint statement on the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee and Trade and Cooperation Agreement Partnership Council meetings, 24 March 2023’: [accessed 25 April 2023]
497 Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, ‘Science and Technology Secretary travels to Brussels to meet EU Research & Innovation Commissioner’ (4 April 2023): [accessed 25 April 2023]
498 (Lucy Monks)
500 (William Bain)
501 (Luke Petherbridge)
503 (Marco Cillario)
504 (Deborah Annetts)
505 (Charley Robinson). See also (Anne-Marie Graham).
506 (Joss Croft)
507 (Stephen Lowy).
508 (Lord Hague)
509 (Leo Docherty MP)
510 (Lucy Monks)
512 Written evidence from ABTA (), (Joss Croft) and (Lucy Monks)
513 Home Office, ‘Immigration Rules’: [accessed 25 April 2023]
514 (Charley Robinson)
515 (Olaf Henricson-Bell). See also Letter from Leo Docherty MP to the Chair (30 March 2023): .
516 (Marco Cillario)