Rows of trucks, more expensive Scotch whiskey and rarer French cheese are some of the visible effects of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, but Brexit is causing less exposed fractures, say generation of Europeans who are now between 25 and 50 years old and call themselves “Erasmus generation”.
Their career, their family, their skills and their affinities are due to the possibility that they had to live and live freely across the Channel. For many, the transit was encouraged by the Erasmus program (which gave the group its nickname), a student, academic, cultural and professional exchange program that has benefited millions of people over the past 30 years.
In 2019 alone (most recent data), 938,568 students, teachers and apprentices passed through 82,231 establishments, in the 28 countries of the European Union before the divorce and other partners. “From Belgium, Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands, France, Poland, Spain and Portugal,” says Maya Szaniecki, 20, of her colleagues in the French course at the University of Paris. ‘Oxford.
Briton and daughter of Brazilians, since she was 16, Maya has been waiting for the chance to live in France for a year. The realization will take place in 2022, but it will require more work – it will be compulsory – and it will cost more, which can be a brake for those who had Erasmus funding. The student regrets the borders imposed on her generation, “a sad loss for the people and a huge loss for the country”.
It’s also a loss for the under-20 generation, say economist Sonia Delindro, Professor Paul James Cardwell, publicist Cristina Sarraile, MEP Terry Reintke and journalist Luísa, who have studied and worked at the foreigners and define themselves more as Europeans than by nationality.
“I wouldn’t be in Parliament today without Erasmus,” says German Terry, 33, who studied in Edinburgh and heads a group of parliamentarians to try to re-admit Scotland and Wales into the exchange.
The British government has announced alternative funding for students, but, according to Terry, Erasmus has specificities essential to its success: “It is a very inclusive program, in which you do not need to have the best grades, administratively. very light, with a structural support that makes the difference ”.
Exchange difficulties have also increased because after Brexit tuition fees for UK colleges are at least double for European students. “It was already difficult for my parents to pay for my studies. Now that would be impossible, ”says Portuguese Luísa, 27.
It was in London, where she reached the age of 18, that Luísa met her current partner, a French exchange student at the time.
Multinationals are also a mark in the life of Franco-Romanian Cristina, 40, and Portuguese Sonia, 43. Both studied in England, where they met Europeans from other countries (a French and an Italian respectively), married and had British children. . They returned to the continent after Brexit, regretting the narrowing outlook.
It was a shock what Sonia felt the day after the referendum that approved Brexit in 2016. “My professional life is here, I pay taxes, I bought a house, and now they want me to leave,” says -she. The UK’s withdrawal from the European Union has further increased the tax on its property by eight, which it will now have to sell.
Feeling betrayed as well, Cristina began to look for opportunities outside the UK. He left for Paris in 2019. “It was like pulling up a tree; I felt uprooted, ”she says, who has left behind an active community life. “I had Greek, German, Spanish colleagues, a wealth of cultures. It will fade.”
The impact will be obscured for some time by the pandemic, says Paul James Cardwell, professor of law at the University of Strathclyde (Scotland) and former Erasmus coordinator at the university. When the restrictions are relaxed, the practical issues will be obvious to researchers as well, though students will be hardest hit, he says.
Cardwell, an Englishman who spent a year in France during his studies, says that “those under 20 will not live this experience which allows them to look to the future with different eyes, with wider horizons”. Research conducted by him and published in 2019 even indicated a beneficial side effect of exchanging notes. “Additional confidence and maturity contribute to better performance,” he analyzes.