Students disappointed with the European Council’s proposal
BRUSSELS – The European Students’ Union (ESU) is deeply disappointed with a proposal from the European Council on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of research, studies, pupil exchange, remunerated and unremunerated training, voluntary service and au pairing. The proposal could significantly limit free movement within the European Union for students, researchers and staff from third countries.
Visas and residency permits are among the largest obstacles that non-EU nationals face when seeking studies in the EU. Simpler administrative immigration procedures can greatly increase the participation and mobility of those non-EU countries and students that are involved in the Bologna Process, such as the Western-Balkans, Eastern Europe and Southern Caucasus.
ESU’s member unions adopted unanimously a resolution on Visa Directive 2014/114 at its Board Meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan, in December. That resolution supports fully the position of the European Parliament from 25 February 2014 on this directive.
“We urged representatives of the European Council to support the proposal as it stood in order to ensure a just process for third country nationals to access higher education in Europe,” says Erin Nordal, Vice-Chairperson of ESU.
A world centre of excellence
However the Council proposed an amended draft that could significantly limit access to European mobility, causing imbalances and discrimination towards non-EU nationals. It is contradictory to the EU’s objective to promote Europe, as a world centre of excellence for studies.
“We cannot speak of a united Europe that is able to look beyond its borders if we cannot recognise the social and cultural importance of international students within our societies. We need to raise intercultural awareness and understanding and bring different perspectives and knowledge to create a world where everyone can live peacefully. Therefore, we stand very strongly against the Council’s proposal, together with the European Youth Forum and other youth organisations. We also issued our joint position on it,” explains Nordal.
ESU urges the decision-makers to rethink whether the Council’s proposal meets the initial purpose of introducing clear and more consistent rules for non-EU nationals as was initiated by the European Commission. ESU wishes that the discussions will focus on the proposal presented by the European Parliament, and all efforts will be taken to approve and implement it within the EU.
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The European Students’ Union, headquartered in Brussels, is the umbrella organisation of 47 national unions of students from 39 European countries. ESU represents and promotes the educational, social, economical and cultural interests of students at the European level. Through its member unions, ESU represents over 11 million students in Europe. To find out more about ESU, follow us on Twitter @ESUtwt, check out or Facebook page or visit www.esu-online.org. ESU celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2012.