Students in UK and Ireland unite in message to Barnier: Do not allow us to become collateral damage

Students cannot become collateral damage in the trade talks between the UK and EU, student leaders from across the UK and Ireland told the chief negotiator for the European Commission, Michel Barnier, today.

The delegation included NUS-USI President Robert Murtagh, Union of Students Ireland (USI) President Lorna Fitzpatrick and the UK’s National Union of Students (NUS) President Zamzam Ibrahim.

The group of three – NUS-USI, NUS and USI – makes up the student movements in Northern Ireland, as well as the rest of the UK and Ireland. Through its decades-long ‘trilateral’ cooperation, the three leaders are campaigning to protect the rights of students as the UK settles its future relationship with the EU. This unique arrangement represents a commitment to cross-border collaboration between the students.

The three leaders unite in saying:

“We have come together to present a unified message from the students of Ireland, Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom. We want the UK and EU to prioritise education, not isolation as they set the terms of the future relationship.

“We have been campaigning for the UK to retain full membership of Erasmus+ and Horizon Europe. We want a fair immigration system which does not penalise students, and we want students on the island of Ireland to face no borders after Brexit. The UK’s time as a member state of the EU may be over, but we, the student movement, are committed to maintaining international collaboration and cooperation.

“Students cannot become collateral damage during the negotiation process.”

On meeting with the leaders, Michel Barnier said:

“Following the mandate given to me by the EU, we are ready to cooperate with the UK on Union programmes such as Erasmus and Horizon Europe, but it will be on a new legal and financial basis.”

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