Liberal Democrats

F44 - Rebuilding our Cultural, Artistic and Educational Ties with Europe

Motion as passed by conference

Submitted by: Federal Policy Committee

Mover: Layla Moran MP (Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs).

Summation: TBC.

Conference believes that Brexit has created significant barriers to the cultural, educational and artistic links which British citizens have enjoyed with their European neighbours and friends over decades, from programmes such as Creative Europe to the formative opportunities enjoyed by young people, ranging from the use of Interrail railway passes to the ability to travel to EU member states on school trips without needing a passport.

Conference notes that this will cause severe economic damage to arts and culture sectors, with negative impacts to the national and local economies, exacerbated by the government's domestic policies, which threaten to damage the UK's world-leading arts and culture sectors, including cutting funding for arts-based university courses, downgrading arts in the school curriculum and leaving creative industry businesses woefully under-supported during the coronavirus pandemic.

Conference condemns the creation of obstacles to musicians and actors performing in the EU, and to EU artists performing in the UK, as well as their staff, and welcomes the calls for paperwork-free travel from artists such as Elton John.

Conference further condemns the decision of the Government to leave the Erasmus Plus scheme; and notes with concern that the replacement Turing Scheme:

  1. Is less accessible and less well-funded than the Erasmus Plus scheme, excluding youth and adult education, and so fails to achieve its stated aim of 'levelling up'.
  2. Has no basis for reciprocity, unlike Erasmus Plus, and therefore restricts the ability of EU students to study at UK higher and further education institutions.
  3. Will risk further the shortage of modern foreign language teachers in UK schools and likely reduce the take-up of modern foreign languages in the long term.

Conference further notes that the Government's visa scheme for young people aged 18-30 (the Youth Mobility Scheme) is not currently applicable to EU/EEA member states.

Conference congratulates Kirsty Williams' efforts in Wales to establish an Erasmus-style scheme to fix the deficiencies of the Turing Scheme; and notes that the SNP has refused to support such a scheme, despite their vocal complaints about the UK's departure from Erasmus Plus.

Conference reaffirms:

  1. The Liberal Democrats' commitment, as set out in the Spring 2021 conference motion The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement and the Future of the UK-EU relationship, to:
    1. Demonstrating the benefits to UK citizens and businesses of a much closer relationship compared to the government's inadequate measures.
    2. Recommending roadmaps for the UK to rejoin the Customs Union, Single Market and other EU agencies and programmes as appropriate.
    3. Maximising public support for eventual UK membership of the EU.
  2. The Liberal Democrats' support for a longer-term objective of UK membership of the EU, as set out in the September 2020 conference motion 'The UK and Europe'.
  3. The Liberal Democrats' commitment to free movement of people as part of a longer-term objective of UK membership of the EU and its institutions.

Conference therefore calls on the government to begin to restore the UK's cultural links with EU member states, by:

  1. Rejoining the Erasmus Plus scheme.
  2. Prior to any re-entry of Erasmus Plus, following the steps taken by Kirsty Williams to improve the Turing Scheme, including by:
    1. Establishing reciprocal partnerships between UK and EU institutions.
    2. Improving (and in some cases establishing) the ability of further and vocational education providers, as well as adult education, youth work settings and schools to access the scheme.
    3. Ensuring that the same level of funding is provided for the Turing Scheme as would have been provided by the UK for Erasmus Plus.
  3. Establishing a European cultural fund, to ensure that young people can access modern foreign language teaching and cultural opportunities regardless of their backgrounds.
  4. Extending the Youth Mobility Scheme to EEA member states on a reciprocal basis.
  5. Improving access to the Youth Mobility Scheme by:
    1. Increasing the number of visas available to meet demand.
    2. Abolishing the fees for these visas, including the Immigration Health Surcharge.
    3. Promoting the scheme to UK citizens.
    4. Increasing the age limit from 18 to 30 to 18 to 35.
    5. Expanding the length of the visa from two to three years.
  6. Negotiating passport- and visa-free school visits to EU member states, on a reciprocal basis.
  7. Simplifying visa arrangements for students attending bona fide language schools.
  8. Rejoining Creative Europe.
  9. Negotiating paperwork-free and cost-free travel and work short-term within the EU for UK artists and their support staff, equipment and hauliers, on a reciprocal basis.
  10. Encouraging town twinning, including cultural, artistic and educational exchanges, between towns in the UK and EU.