After Brexit, a complex and costly visa system has been established for those from the European Union who wish to work temporarily in the United Kingdom. Therefore, we call on the Swedish government to negotiate with Britain for a two-year period for mutual exemptions for everyone under the age of thirty. In this way, young Swedes and Britons will be able to work more easily in each other’s countries. Written by Anna Stellinger, Svenskot Narringliffe and Peter Sandberg, the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in the United Kingdom.
The UK’s withdrawal from the European Union affects the relationship between Sweden and the United Kingdom on several levels. Our countries are close together, and goods, services, data, and people have been able to move freely for decades.
But with Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, the free movement of citizens on both sides of the English Channel ceased. This is negative for both employees and employers, but there are opportunities to mitigate problems that have now arisen with a relatively simple scale.
During their youth, many Swedes spent a shorter period in the UK, not least in London. The residency – which often involved working in the retail trade, at a bar, at a bank, or otherwise – contributed to the individuals’ international experience, language skills, and contacts.
Likewise, many young Britons have worked in Sweden, not least in the tech industry. All these people’s networks, knowledge and experience have been of great benefit to the business community in both countries and our economic development. So it is very negative that this exchange in the future cannot continue as before.
On 1 January 2021, a new UK immigration law came into effect. This has led, among other things, to the introduction of a complex and costly visa system for EU citizens who wish to live and work in the UK. There are different types of visas available, but for most people, the “skilled worker path” would entail a corresponding minimum wage requirement of around SEK 300,000, making it nearly impossible for many young people new to the labor market to be able to relocate to the kingdom. United for work and experience.
However, the UK also has one Youth mobility scheme (YMS) which means that young people in the 18-30 age group from several countries, including Australia and South Korea, have the opportunity to work in the UK for up to two years without exorbitant visa costs and minimum wage requirements. Thus, YMS gives young people the opportunity to gain international work experience in one of the largest markets and economies in the world, as well as one where they can gain excellent English language skills.
The British government and the new Future Borders Minister have shown an openness to the possibility of expanding YMS also through bilateral agreements with individual EU countries. If Sweden and the United Kingdom sign such an agreement, it means that young people from Sweden could move to the UK, and vice versa, on much better terms.
The visa program, as I said, is a joint program that entails the same rights for British citizens in Sweden. The program reminds us a lot of the Swedish Youth Vacations Program, which currently exists with countries such as Australia and South Korea to name a few.
Brexit will require innovative solutions and a great deal of willpower, so that the simplicity of our relations with the UK is not affected as little as possible. When it comes to mobility for young people, there is a possible way forward. Therefore, the Swedish government, along with its British counterpart, should sign a bilateral agreement ensuring that young Swedes are covered by the Youth Mobility Scheme.
Such an agreement will not restore freedom of movement, and moreover, it only applies to workers in a certain age group, but it is a step in the right direction and something that will strengthen the bonds between our two countries.
CEO of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in the United Kingdom
Head of International and European Union Affairs at the Swedish Companies Federation