British in Bavaria. Report on Ottobrunn event: “Brexit and what it means for Brits in Bavaria” 19 February 2018
45+ Brits and a few Germans gathered in the Wolf-Ferrari-Haus in Ottobrunn on Monday, 19 February to hear a review of progress on citizens rights in the Withdrawal negotiations and advice on what individuals can do to protect their own interests through and beyond Brexit.
The event was generously supported by the Gemeinde Ottobrunn, who helped with advertising and provided the lecture room free of charge.
David Hole summarised the Brexit negotiations so far, spelling out what “sufficient progress” on citizens rights actually means, i.e. what was agreed in December and what remains to be tackled. He pointed out that the December deal is only provisional because “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed” in the Withdrawal negotiations. Citizens´ rights are by no means “done and dusted” as the perception in the UK seems to be, he warned. Also, the risk of a no deal scenario has not gone away.
Encouraging was the fact that broad agreement had been reached in December on the key concerns of pensions and healthcare, said Hole. But important areas affecting people´s lives and livelihoods were far from being resolved, especially onward freedom of movement, future healthcare, cross-border working, continuation of recognition of professional qualifications and family reunion. Different groups of Brits would be affected in different ways, he explained. To illustrate this he itemised the impact on the older, middle and younger generations.
Hole also talked about the transition period, the hostile environment for EU citizens in the UK and applications for permanent residence status post-Brexit (“settled status” in UK, constitutive or declaratory, for EUinUK and for UKinEU).
Ingrid Taylor gave facts and figures on the UK population in Germany – e.g. economically active, highly educated, moved for work. 74% have been here for at least 5 years. After Brexit UK nationals in Germany will become “third-country nationals”, and as things stand so far in the negotiations, continued free movement within the EU27 is not guaranteed. For those involved in international assignments, or wanting to continue an international career in the EU, this may have serious implications, she warned. Currently the best way to maintain free movement rights beyond Brexit – for those who meet the qualifying criteria – is to apply for German citizenship. Other recommendations include talking to employers or the Works Council at an early stage, planning any career moves or career changes carefully, so as to avoid being out of work, between jobs, on benefits or unemployed around the point of Brexit and afterwards during the time when residence permits are being applied for or granted.
As regards family, the need to clarify the citizenship status of children born in Germany to UK nationals was mentioned, and the details on family reunion were discussed (dependent family members, children born after Exit Day, etc.). The situation of students was touched upon. And the importance of ensuring residence is registered (Anmeldung) was emphasised. Other steps that can be taken include: joining in the lobbying campaign to stop Brexit; highlighting your own situation to MPs, MEPs, employers and German politicians; signing the petitions; keeping close track of further developments so as to be able to react if necessary.
Taylor explained the process of applying for German citizenship, urging those who are interested to start soon, as processing times have been up to one year after submission of the application. Some improvement on these times has been seen, but it remains a fact that Munich and the surrounding “Gemeinden” have the longest processing times of the whole of Germany. Importantly, as the current law stands, only those obtaining citizenship before Exit Day will be able to keep their British citizenship – i.e. they become dual nationals. If citizenship is granted after Exit Day, it is likely Brits will have to choose either German or British. Hence the need for speed, Taylor said. Hole assured questioners that once dual status has been obtained, it can be retained: there is no provision under current German law for German citizenship to be revoked, nor will there be a need to choose between the two.
The Süddeutsche reported on the event in the politics section of the SZ 24/25 February: http://www.sueddeutsche.de/muenchen/landkreismuenchen/brexit-run-auf-den-doppelpass-1.3880548