"I have many worries about the future"

25 July 2017

This story was sent to us by Emily, a UK national who lives in France.

"Hello, my name is Emily and I am an 18-year-old British citizen. Born near Newcastle in England, I was raised mainly in France by my British parents who run their own business. After being in the French education system for over 10 years, I entered further education in the Netherlands. Today I am proud to be a student at Rotterdam School of Management, part of Erasmus University.

I am very thankful for my past experiences (born, raised and taught in different countries and languages) and recognise that this was all made possible by the rights granted to EU citizens. These rights have allowed my family to travel freely within the Schengen area, allowing us to live in 4 different countries and visit our relatives when wanted/needed. We have gained different important skills such as multicultural awareness and complete fluency in a second language. These experiences have enabled me to attend to a leading university in another country, with a reduced fee as we are part of the EU. As my parents are residents in France, I have also received a grant from the French government to study. These benefits were taken for granted before 23rd June 2016. Now, with the current debates and uncertainty over citizens’ rights, I have many worries about the future.

For me, will I continue to receive financial aid towards my education? Where will I be able to apply for a Masters and at what price? How does this affect my future work opportunities? I think I will have to apply for French citizenship but this is logistically difficult now studying in the Netherlands, plus it is expensive for a student.

My 15-year-old sister is still in high school and aims to graduate in the medical-sports sector. Which universities will she be allowed to apply to? Will she have the same opportunities as me? Will she have to study in the UK where she has never lived and, if so, will her degree be recognised in the EU and vice versa? Will she receive a grant from the French government, the British government or neither?

My 20-year-old sister is set to graduate next year as a manager in sound and lighting for live events. As festivals and shows occur all over Europe, will she be allowed the same freedom of movement as before?

Many of my French friends wished to join the Erasmus+ programme to study for a trimester in England, will this no longer be an option?

How will this impact my parents’ livelihood in France? They hadn’t considered asking for French citizenship when setting up their life in France, will they need to now and will they qualify? Will their company be affected? What happens to their pension?

Regarding my grandparents, what happens if sadly one of them can no longer live on their own, and putting them in a home is not an option? Will they be allowed to travel and live with our family in France?

These questions never occurred to me before as the EU citizens’ rights covered them. Now that these are threatened, we realise the freedom and security we had before Brexit. Taking away these rights would be a great loss. This would only have a negative impact, not only on the British citizens abroad but also the Europeans in Great Britain. That is why, after a year of uncertainty, I hope and pray that the EU and the UK can come to an agreement to keep the current EU citizens’ rights. I used to be very proud of being British, but Brexit has changed my perception of the UK and its values."

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