Sara Gordon reports on pro democracy demonstration which took place in Berlin last weekend.
On Saturday representatives from British in Germany joined grassroots organisation Stop the Coup Berlin, also supported by Pulse of Europe, to defend British democracy in the face of the current government’s attempts to push through a no-deal Brexit.
Many Brits living in Germany along with the vast majority of EU citizens living in the UK were not able to vote in the referendum, a decision that will detrimentally affect our lives and futures. The threat of a no-deal Brexit has caused fear, anger and distress, compounded by stressful cliff-edge situations and the threats to democracy in the UK government under Boris Johnson. Many in British in Germany face uncertainty until they are granted some form of residence permit, and many will not be able to apply until Brexit happens. Brits elsewhere in the EU may be even less fortunate. A disorderly Brexit could make them illegal overnight – resulting in traumatic chaos.
Aware of the potential consequences of a disorderly Brexit both here in Germany and back in the UK, Brits and EU citizens banded together to form Stop the Coup Berlin. Following on from smaller protest on 31 August, a core of seven people went to work, lost lots of sleep, and organised a larger demonstration on Pariser Platz directly in front of the Brandenburg Gate on Saturday 7th September.
Speakers included MEP Sergey Lagodlnsky (Bündnis 90/die Grünen), who spoke about the importance of democracy; Berlin-based British political commentator Jon Worth, who shared his analysis of recent events; Daniel Tetlow of British in Germany, who spoke about citizen rights, academic Prof. Dr. Mareike Kleine (LSE / Freie Universität), whospoke about what happens when democracies go bad; newlywed British-born German Rachel Marriott who detailed some of the experiences of Brits living in Germany in the face of Brexit. This was followed by a brief open-mic session, followed by Scottish stand-up comedian Neil Numb who added his lighter-hearted take on all this.
The whole event was accompanied by local musicians Espin and the Noisses, the highlight of which was perhaps the duet set of EU-inspired songs by Noisses’ singer Lucy Stubley and Espin, including “Nothing compares to EU”.
The protest was a resounding success! At peak, we counted 150 attendees and collected over 220 signatures for the letter to Ambassador Sir Sebastian Wood, which was delivered to a representative on the day by coordinator Rose Newell and logistics man Maurice Bennet.
Depending on events over the next few weeks, British in Germany will continue to coordinate with Stop the Coup Berlin and Pulse of Europe on the best way to proceed. It is highly likely that another demonstration will be organised in the near future.
We would like to thank all that attended the demonstration and encourage more to come out next time!
Until then, we encourage you to visit the British in Germany Berlin Stammtisch this Saturday (14th September) at BrewDog Mitte (1 to 5 pm) and keep in touch via Facebook, Twitter and email.
Images (c) Sara Gordon, 2019
The event was cover by several media outlets. Here are a few links to their reporting:
In a set of two articles the UK Ambassador Sir Sebastian Wood and the head of the German government’s Brexit Task Force Axel Dittmann talk citizens’ rights, travelling after Brexit and no-deal preparations. Jane Golding, BiG and BiE were praised for their work protecting Citizens’ Rights.
Dittmann said: “I absolutely agree with Jane Golding and Maike Bohn, who represent British in Europe and the3Million in regular meetings here in the Foreign Ministry, that citizen’s rights are of the utmost importance. This topic has been and will remain our top priority.”
Sir Sebastian echoed this sentiment.
“Protecting the rights of citizens remains the UK’s top priority,” he said.
(DE + english with german subtitles) Gary Blackburn, a BiG member, was interviewed on the impact of Brexit in the SAT1 evening news for the Rheinland Pfalz/Hessen region. Click on the image below for the video, the report starts at 2:35 mins into the broadcast. 2 February, 2019.
(DE with english subtitles) Attendees to the Hamburg InfoAbend and Stammtisch were interviewed for ARD’s Tagestheme programme, 28th January 2019
(DE) Daniel Tetlow features in an article by Bernadette Mittermeier regarding the concerns of EU and UK nationals in the post-Brexit world “Wir sind alle verunsichert”, Süddeutsche Zeitung, 21st January, 2019
(DE) ZDF Ländesspiegel 19th Jan with Jane Golding and Connie Simms, BiG’s 2018/9 Intern:
(DE) Ingrid Taylor was interviewed on the BR about the impact of the failed vote on the Withdrawal Agreement in the House of Commons, ‘Ingrid Taylor, Verein “British in Bavaria“‘, BR-Podcast, 16th January, 2019
Daniel Tetlow was interviewed on the situation for UK Nationals living in another EU Member state on Deutsche Welle, 16th January, 2019
Jane Golding was interviewed on the situation in the UK following Parliament’s rejection of the Withdrawal Bill on Deutsche Welle, 16th January, 2019
Channel 4 News included interviews with Jane Golding and other BiG activists in Berlin. We were asked about the impact on our everyday lives and what a no-deal Brexit means to us. You can watch the interviews featured above by clicking on the image or here, Channel 4 News, 18 December 2018
Jane Golding and other members of British in Germany, British in Europe as well as the 3 Million, took part in “The Last Mile” event in London. While there was little coverage in the UK, there was significant coverage in the German Language press, 6 November 2018
(DE) Daniel Tetlow (co-founder of British in Germany), ‘Was es heißt, ein Eu-Bürger zu sein,’ Internationale Politik, May-June 2018. IP has kindly allowed us to provide you access. Please click on the image below to download the PDF (in German). Copyright Deutsche Gesellschaft für Auswärtige Politik e.V.
(DE) Anika Stiller, Run auf den Doppelpass, Süddeutsche Zeitung, 23 February 2018. Article in German about the tireless work of the British in Germany group in Bavaria, and issues around securing dual nationality.
With the UK’s withdrawal from the EU now postponed until 31 October at the latest, the chances that the UK will take place in the elections for the European Parliament on Thursday 23 May in the UK and Sunday 26 May in Germany has increased.
As we will continue to be EU Citizens at this point we will continue to have the right to take part in these elections.
The deadline to register in the UK is 7th May, and in Germany 5th May, so you will need to move fast!
Together with British in Europe we have re-opened the voter website last used for the 2017 General Election. CLICK HERE, to see British in Europe’s all you need to know Voter Registration Info site.
You will have two choices:
If you have been absent from the UK for less than 15 years you can still vote in the EU elections in the UK at your last registered address.
If you have been absent for more than 15 years or if you prefer to vote in Germany you can register to vote there instead.
If you have not already registered to vote, scroll to the end of the page and find the link to register to vote either online for England, Scotland and Wales, or by post in Northern Ireland. Latest inquires from our members suggest 7th May is the deadline to register for the EU Elections.
Even if you think you are registered it would be worth checking by contacting the Electoral Registration Officer where you think you are registered. Registrations are confirmed each year by post and you may have become deregistered if you have moved addresses and not informed them.
Once registered you should consider how you wish to vote, either by post or by proxy.
If you choose a postal vote then your voting papers will be posted out to you in Germany where you can complete them before returning them. Be aware that the time available to do this limited as the voting papers can take several days to arrive and must be return promptly to be counted.
The most assured way to vote is via a proxy. This could be a friend or neighbour you are happy will vote as you direct them to, or an alternative is to contact your party of choice locally (most have websites to allow you to find a contact name) and they can be authorised to vote on your behalf. In both cases a form needs to be completed and returned to the Returning Officer so start making preparations now.
In the UK the election in on a regional list system and you will have one vote for the list of your choice.
If you are a German citizen, you should be on the electoral register here automatically.
If you are a UK / other EU citizen and not also German, you aren’t included automatically on the register for the European Parliament, you need to opt-in.
If you have opted in for a previous European Parliament election in Germany since 1999 you should still be on the register, even if you have moved home within Germany. But you might want to double check this with your local Wahlamt to confirm you are on the list (particularly given all the recent uncertainty re Brexit)
If you used to live in Germany but then moved away before moving back again, you will need to opt back in again to the European Parliament electoral register. This can be done up to 21 days before the vote, i.e, 5 May. The necessary form can be found on the website but must be handed in personally or by post to the Wahlamt – electoral office – in your local authority area (e.g. Bezirksamt or Kreisverwaltung).
It is possible to set up a postal vote, otherwise you would attend the polling station indicated on your voting card and on presenting your passport will be given a voting paper.
In Germany the election is on a nation wide list system and you will have one vote for the list of your choice.
In cooperation with German partners and British in Germany e.V., the British Embassy Berlin will host an Open Afternoon and Evening on Tuesday 30th April 2019. This will be an opportunity for you to find out how the UK leaving the EU might affect your rights to live and work in Germany.
Economic Counsellor Rachel King will give an update on issues relating to citizens’ rights and what this means for you after the UK leaves the EU. She will be joined by the Head of the Berlin Foreigners Authority (Ausländerbehörde) Engelhard Mazanke, who will explain the registration process in Berlin.
Following the introductions there will be an Info Fair, where you will be able to speak to representatives from key German authorities on pensions, health insurance, residency, naturalisation, studying and Erasmus, and working in Germany (participating organisations to be confirmed).
The British Embassy and Antje Lezius, Member of the German Bundestag, in collaboration with British in Germany, will host a German-British Information Evening on citizens rights in Bad Kreuznach on Monday, 15th April at 6:30pm.
HM Consul General Rafe Courage will give an update on the impact of the UK leaving the EU on citizens’ rights of UK nationals living in Germany and what this means for you. Antje Lezius will present the German government’s plans, as will the Foreigners’ Authority Bad Kreuznach. They will be joined by Amanda Diel from British in Germany e.V. Following the speeches, there will be plenty of time to ask any questions you have.
The event is primarily aimed at UK nationals living in and around Bad Kreuznach. Family members and friends are, of course, also welcome to attend, as are German citizens with questions regarding travel to or study in the UK following the UK’s exit from the European Union.
Doors open at 6.00 pm. The event will run from 6.30pm to 8.30 pm.
This event will take place in English and German.
Should you be attending by car, there are parking spaces available at Brauwerk Bad Kreuznach (charges apply).
We look forward to welcoming you then.
For information on this event in German please see:
Despite the cheery faces on the photo collage of this event (click the image for the full collage), the general mood in Munich was sombre and reflective. It has been a long haul since Article 50 was invoked and many of us are incredulous at the lack of progress since then. Special scorn was reserved for those politicians seen as responsible for STILL not providing clarity on vital aspects affecting the lives of UK citizens in Europe, such as healthcare and pensions.
Listen in to what Brits (and Germans!) in Munich were saying on the day the UK did not leave the EU (that at least gave some cause for optimism….):
Fiona: “I breathed a sigh of relief today. We need to press the pause button and give everybody a chance to get a deal with consensus, one in which citizens rights are protected.”
Ingrid: “There are people here tonight who don´t know if they will have health insurance next week! Or if their pension contributions will be counted in both countries. Or if they can continue to work for customers in countries across the German border! That´s how bad things are for us here.”
Mike: “So much money has been spent on all this, by governments and businesses – if the UK doesn’t in the end leave all that will have been totally wasted.”
Ulrike: “Die UK war nie wirklich 100% dabei. Aber die Politiker haben jetzt total versagt. Ich bin traurig für die nächste Generation.”
Trevor: “Hope that if there is a second referendum that young people will turn out. Clicking on ‘Like’ is just not the same as voting.”
Dave: “B******* to Brexit. We´re ok over here – we´ll still be able to buy food and medicines!”
Bob (disenfranchised): “Hoping that British pragmatism will lead to a second referendum.”
David (not DH): “Now that the deal has been voted down, it leaves options open for a soft Brexit.”
Athol: “At one time I was proud to be British, now I keep quiet about it.”
Ian #1: “If we have to leave, it has to be in an orderly manner, but of course my preference is to stay.”
Ian #2: “It´s all a muddle – they need to have a rethink. And an extension to work it all out.”
Linda: “Thank goodness we are British and have a sense of humour.”
The waiter (an economics student): “Ich denke, es ist nicht so verheerend für Europa. Langfristig wird man zusammenhalten.”
Julia: “A catastrophe! Everyone is laughing at us.”
Gisela: “Es sollte eine Verlängerung geben, und die UK sollte an den EU Wahlen teilnehmen.”
Ryosuke: “If there is a second referendum, people should be guided by the economic outlook, and the effects already being seen in terms of people´s jobs. The UK was such a strong state, I don´t understand why all this is happening.”
Tim: “The best we can hope for is for a customs union, but one that allows for freedom of movement.”
Jochen: “Why change a running game? It has worked well so far, I don´t understand what is going on.”
Leoni: “I´m amazed that so many MPs actually voted for no deal! They are completely disregarding the catastrophic effect this will have on the lives of poor and vulnerable people.”
“Politicians have no sense of responsibility.”
“Everything is so screwed, that it looks like the UK will crash out on 12 April. But I don´t wish it.”
“The last four years has been a farce.”
“The older leave voters have enjoyed the benefits of the UK´s membership of the EU, and now they don´t want to pass that on to the next generation!”
“UK´s influence in the EU is now much diminished, whatever happens.”
The British Embassy posted the following statement on Facebook on Friday 5 April. Please find a copy of the statement below:
From the British Embassy today:
The British Embassy Berlin would like to draw your attention to these key sources of information for UK nationals living in Germany. We are grateful for your help in sharing this information with any UK nationals in your organisations and networks.
There are several steps which you can take to help prepare for the UK’s Exit from the EU. We recommend you take these practical steps as soon as possible. More information is available on the Living in Germany Guide, the UK government’s main source of information for UK nationals in Germany, which is regularly updated. You can sign up for email alerts.
Registration: You must ensure that you are correctly registered with your local residents’ registration office (Einwohnermeldeamt) before the UK leaves the EU.
Residency: In addition, in all EU Exit scenarios, UK nationals living in Germany will need to apply for a new residence permit from their local Foreigners’ Authority (Ausländerbehörde). Please read the Federal Interior Ministry’s FAQs (in German, English translation to be published soon).
If the Withdrawal Agreement is ratified, this can be done until at least the end of 2020.
In a no deal scenario, the German government is planning a transition period of initially three months, which they intend to extend by a further six, during which you can apply for a residence permit.
This application should be done irrespective of whether you have in the past been issued with an ‘unbefristete Aufenthaltserlaubnis’ or another residence permit.
Some Foreigners’ Authorities are already planning a voluntary registration/application procedure before the UK leaves the EU. Please see our guidance on Foreigners’ Authorities and complete your local process as soon as possible.
Passports and Travel: The rules for passport and travel to most countries in Europe will change if the UK leaves the EU with no deal. You should have at least 6 months left on your passport from your date of arrival to any Schengen country, including Germany. This applies to adult and child passports. You can use this tool to check if your passport is valid before booking travel. In addition, in the case of a no deal scenario, if you need to leave and re-enter Germany before you have received your new residence permit, please plan more time at the border and take relevant documents, such as your registration certificate, social security confirmations, or work or rental contracts, with you.
Healthcare: If you are working in Germany and paying German social security contributions, your healthcare via a German health insurance provider (Krankenkasse) will not be affected by the UK’s exit from the EU. If your healthcare is currently covered via a S1 form and the UK leaves the EU without a deal, your access to healthcare may change. In this case, you should take out German health insurance. According to German no-deal legislation, you will be able to join a statutory health insurance (gesetzliche Krankenversicherung) within three months of the UK leaving the EU, without being subject to the normal restrictions on age etc. You would be required to pay towards this insurance. For more information please read the Association of German Health Insurers’ Brexit FAQ.
In addition, your European Healthcare Insurance Card (EHIC) might no longer be valid, if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. Visitors should therefore ensure they have comprehensive travel insurance before travelling. Students should make sure they have appropriate health insurance.
Driving: Holders of UK driving licences who are resident in Germany should exchange their UK licence for a German driving licence before the UK leaves the EU. Your local Bürgeramt will be able to advise on where you must go to do this. You will be allowed to drive on your German licence when visiting the UK. An International Driving Permit is not a suitable alternative to exchanging your licence. Visitors to Germany will be allowed to drive on their UK photocard driving licence. Paper licences will not be valid. For more information please read the Federal Ministry of Transport’s questions and answers about EU Exit (in German)
Professional Qualifications: If you hold UK professional qualifications you may need to get them recognised in Germany before exit day. Find out where you can request recognition of your qualifications in Germany (in German) and read the European Commission’s guidance on recognition of professional qualifications during EU Exit. For further information, please consult Anerkennung in Deutschland’s Brexit FAQs.
Civil servants: If you are employed as a civil servant (Beamte/r), you will need a permit to continue your employment after the UK has left the EU. Further information can be found here (in German). Please consult your employer.
We appreciate that this is a period of uncertainty and many of you want more information and advice. We want to help you prepare for all scenarios and are committed to ensuring relevant information is available in a transparent and accessible way.
To stay up to date, please sign up for email alerts on our Living in Germany Guide and follow Brits in Germany on Facebook. Members of your organisation might also be interested in attending one of our information events across Germany.
Please also share the attached leaflet with your British members.
Amy McHugh • EU & Economic Support Officer • British Embassy • Wilhelmstrasse 70 • 10117 Berlin
Image: By Jean-Pierre Dalbéra from Paris, France – L’Ambassade du Royaume-Uni (Berlin), CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6791741
It has been an exhausting few weeks and it has been very difficult to know what we should report here as it has changed from hour to hour.
Today, Wednesday 27 March, the UK Parliament will be going rogue and having taken control of the Order Paper will be debating and conducting indicative votes on a set of proposals in an attempt to unblock the Brexit logjam.
We do not know which options the Speaker will select but they are likely to range from No-Deal to Revoke Article 50 and every possible option in between.
Which brings us to the second item. The Petition to Revoke Article 50. Created by Margaret Georgiadou, 77, she can hardly have believed the attention the Petition would receive.
Although revoking Article 50 is an improbable outcome it is still important to sign it in order to put pressure on MPs to consider other relationships the UK could have with the EU in the event that the UK does leave.
At the time of writing the Petition stands at over 5,800,000. Click on the image to add your vote! Remember you can vote if you are a UK National even if you are living abroad or a foreign National living in the UK.
If you are still hungry to sign more petitions then consider the one to allow all British citizens to vote should there be a new referendum on Brexit.
Sadly the Private Member’s Bill to implement Votes for Life was “talked out” – as often occurs to bills not part of the Government programme. The petition requests that in the event of a new referendum British citizens living abroad are not excluded from voting on a matter that greatly affects their lives as happened in 2016. Again click the image to be taken to the petitions website.
Jon Worth and Philip Oltermann are organising a distraction from what would have been the original Brexit day, but nevertheless a necessary antidote to the stresses and strains of Brexit itself. As they say:
The idea – to give everyone a good night to distract them from politics – is the same as before. But this time we’re reversing the music – we’ll play something from each of the other 27 Member States of the European Union, released since those countries joined the EU.
Time: 19:30-21:00 – Brexit discussion (speakers tbc)
21:00 until very late – Music and dancing