As the crunch EU summit is fast approaching, the future of Post-Brexit Britain has never been more crucial for young citizens hoping to keep access to the freedoms that we currently enjoy. The UK Youth Perspective and Priorities for Brexit Negotiations report launched by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on a Better Brexit for Young People, My Life My Say and the London School of Economics demonstrated that young people envision a UK which is open, equal and prosperous - and ultimately one which is still connected to Europe.
Growing up as a young person is not always easy. Historically young people have turned out less at the ballot box than older generations and so are often tarnished as the apathetic generation not worthy of a voice in decision-making processes. Yet as the recent Youth Brexit Report reveals, young people want a say in the Brexit negotiations, but often lack the information or means to do so.
There can be no doubt that Brexit has politicised a generation; from the “youthquake” at the last UK General Election to the Scottish Independence Referendum. As a result, officials from both the UK Government and European Union are now more willing than ever to listen to the views of British youth. As a unified force, young people are more powerful than ever.
Young British citizens want an opportunity to shape the course of the Brexit negotiations; and they deserve one. That’s why the recent Youth Brexit Report is a crucial tool for decision-makers, since it truly represents what young people from across the UK would like to see from the negotiations.
Last Thursday, MLMS travelled to Brussels and met with senior EU officials on the front line negotiating Brexit. We presented our report and its findings to Didier Seeuws from Task Force 50; Chief Advisor to Michel Barnier, Stefaan De Rynck; plus Danuta Hübner MEP from the Brexit Steering Group, among other EU officials. Negotiations are a two-way business and so by working with European decision-makers as well as UK parliamentarians, we believe we will get a better outcome for all of us.
MLMS urged EU negotiators to protect the rights that young Brits enjoy from being in the EU, mostly the right to work, study and travel across Europe. We reminded them that overwhelmingly, British youth expressed a strong desire to be involved in the negotiation process and to have their voices heard by both the UK and EU decision-makers. Ultimately, British youth cannot be overlooked by EU negotiators in Brussels. MLMS made it clear that young people in the Britain envision a UK that is open, just and equal - with positive relationships with EU and non-EU countries. Whilst the referendum exposed a country divided by a plethora of incisions: old and young; rural and urban; educated and non-educated, to name a few, young people from across Europe are keen to demonstrate that they are a unified force for the best Brexit possible.
That’s why MLMS will be focusing on young EU citizens rights and intergenerational dialogue next year. After our unprecedented Youth Brexit Report, MLMS plans on extending and growing to include all young people across Europe and demonstrating the power of discussion and dialogue to achieve the empathy necessary to bridge intergenerational divisions. By visiting Brussels and presenting our report, we demonstrated that the British youth are here, we exist, we matter and, crucially, our issues and concerns are different to that of older generations who are typically prioritised in policy-making. And our work is not over yet - watch this space!