The UK’s place in the EU has made Britain one of the best places in the world for students to study and gain the skills that they need to give them the best possible start in their working lives. Before the referendum, the UK’s universities received around £730 million a year from the EU to spend on research. Membership of the EU means that academics of international calibre can easily come to teach in our universities and pass their expertise on to British students.
Being in the EU also enables British students to participate in the Erasmus scheme. More than 40,000 people from the UK went abroad on the Erasmus+ scheme during 2015–16: the scheme has allowed students like these to live and study anywhere in the EU and in turn other EU students have come to the UK, enabling an exchange of cultures, broadening of horizons and the building of new relationships. By staying in the EU, Liberal Democrats will ensure that British students can continue to study wherever in the EU they choose to.
The EU also makes it easier for people such as doctors, nurses, vets and architects to work abroad by ensuring that their qualifications are recognised across Europe. Liberal Democrats will continue to work to ensure that more qualifications gained in one member state are fully recognised in others, including by supporting joint degree initiatives.
The European Social Fund actively supports young people through improving access and integration into employment, self-employment, social inclusion, education and training, traineeships and apprenticeships, jobs and training mobility, among others. The Fund is implemented by each member state and Liberal Democrats will fight to ensure that the UK government spends this money where it matters most, reaching those who need it most.
EU membership also benefits the health and well-being of UK citizens. The EU funds research into new treatments for diseases and gives the UK access to cutting-edge treatments at the earliest opportunity. The EU provides important coordination on the management of pandemics, which must be a cross-border endeavour. And the European Health Insurance Card means that UK citizens can easily receive medical treatment when they are visiting other countries in the EU.
The UK imports a great number of medical goods from the EU that are essential for treating disease. We rely on our membership of Euratom to get access to the radioactive isotopes that are used for cancer diagnosis and treatment, we rely on imports of blood plasma – which cannot be replaced from within the UK due to the risk of variant CJD – from the EU, and the UK is also dependent on the EU for insulin. Being part of the EU also means we get ground-breaking new medicines before other countries outside the bloc.
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