As the hon. Gentleman knows, the current Erasmus programme is covered by the current multi-annual financial framework of the European Union, which ends in 2020. We need to look at what future frameworks would look like and how negotiations would approach the issue in future, but we have already set out a very positive UK position. We look forward to engaging with the EU on many issues, as part of the discussions of our future partnership.
In the debate, there was some discussion of the powers of devolved Administrations to act on citizens’ rights. I should make it clear that we are committed to securing a deal that works for the entire United Kingdom—for Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and all parts of England. We expect the outcome of leaving the European Union to be a significant increase in the decision-making power of each devolved Administration. I look forward to discussing that further when I attend the Joint Ministerial Committee (EU Negotiations) tomorrow. The deal secured in December is, of course, without prejudice to the common travel area between the UK and Ireland and the rights of British and Irish citizens in each other’s countries. We stand by our commitments in the Belfast agreement, one of which is that the people of Northern Ireland have the right to choose to be British, Irish or both. Maintaining those rights means that the people of Northern Ireland will not be required to assert and choose a specific identity in order to access public services and other entitlements. Their rights to work, study and access social security and public services will be preserved on a reciprocal basis.
I am grateful for the time and contribution of all Members to this important debate. I have listened carefully to the points that have been raised across the House. Whilst associate citizenship is not within the current scope of negotiations, I reiterate that I will always be happy to listen to proposals from colleagues or our European counterparts on how we can best safeguard the rights of UK nationals.
I want to be clear that at every step of these negotiations, we will work to secure the best possible deal for all UK nationals, including those currently living in the EU and those who wish to travel to the EU in future. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has repeatedly made clear, although we are leaving the European Union, we are not leaving Europe. I remind colleagues that the concept of EU citizenship only appeared in the Maastricht treaty of 1993. We were citizens of Europe long before Maastricht, and while we may now be leaving the political structures of the European Union and its treaties, we will not be any less European as a result.
Question put and agreed to.
That this House
supports the maintenance of European Union citizenship rights for Welsh, Scottish, Northern Irish and English citizens, notes that the range of rights and protections afforded to individuals as European Union citizens are integral to a person’s European identity;
further notes that many of those rights are closely linked to the UK’s membership of the Single Market;
and calls on the UK Government to ensure that the UK’s membership of the Single Market and UK citizens’
right to European Union citizenship are retained in the event that the UK leaves the EU.