All posts by Daniel

BiG meets Brexpats Hear Our Voice in Rotterdam

Report by Ellie Sellwood (British in Germany Hamburg)

On Saturday 14th September, I travelled to Rotterdam to take part in a meet-up organised by fellow citizens’ rights campaign group – Brexpats Hear Our Voice (BHOV). The event was held at the Het Niewe Instituut in central Rotterdam and along with members of BHOV, there were also present members from British in the Netherlands, Brexit and the Belgium Brits, Young European Voices, British in Romania and British in Italy.

The theme of the event was “together we are stronger” and the aim was to introduce our groups and share our insights from our respective countries with each other.

Debbie Williams opened the meeting. Debbie is the founder of BHOV, and a member of the British in Europe steering committee. Debbie welcomed everyone and talked about the importance of working together especially in the coming months with Brexit scheduled for the end of October.

Debbie then gave the floor to the visiting groups. First to speak was Molly Williams – Debbie’s daughter, and myself as founding member of the campaign group – Young European Voices. Young European Voices was set up to advocate for the rights of young Brits and Europeans with regards to Brexit and so Molly and I talked about the specific problems facing young people i.e. that young people haven’t been in home countries throughout the EU long enough to apply for citizenship and young parents may lose access to child benefits.

Then I spoke as the representative from British in Germany. I introduced the group and talked about our work both on the federal and local levels. I also talked about our close relationship with the British Embassy and our events and elaborated on our recent successes and challenges – with regards to contradictory advice and differential treatment being offered to Brits by local German federal authorities.

Sara Parkes introduced the British in the Netherlands group, which has had some notable success with the Dutch parliament in the past few months. Louise Ham Sheppard then introduced Brexit and the Belgian Brits (BaBBs) and touched on her group having similar challenges to BiG in Belgium with the country having a federal system and advice being contradictory depending on the local authorities. Neal Whatson then introduced British in Romania and Clarissa Killwick introduced British in Italy.

For the remainder of the day we discussed how to attract the attention of local and British media, the In Limbo books – 2 books full of testimonials from Europeans living in the UK and Brits living in the EU, which BHOV created with Elena Remigi. We discussed how to use these to draw more attention to our situation in Europe. If BiG members are interested then they can ask for some copies from Debbie.

Then there was a role-play and discussion about Brexit and mental health from Valerie – a mental health professional. And, finally the meeting rounded off with a discussion about where we all go from here. Given the different Brexit outcomes, no-deal, extension and, perhaps more hopefully, Article 50 being revoked, it’s important for us all to work out how best to support the members in our groups and where to focus our efforts with regards to campaigning.

All in all it was a very uplifting event that went a long way to show how much stronger we can be together. Thanks very much to the Brexpats Hear Our Voice team for their kind invitation!

British Embassy hold their first Facebook Live Event

Report by Elise Shepley (BIG Intern)

The British Embassy in Berlin led an hour-long Facebook live Q&A on August 6th 2019, in an attempt to directly address the questions and concerns of British citizens living in Germany in the run up to Brexit.

Over 200 questions were answered, and the Embassy has subsequently produced a summary of the event, which documents all of the questions and answers posed during the Q&A session. All questions posed within the hour-long time frame received a response from the Embassy over the following 24 hours.

The Embassy’s document has been organised into eight categories determined by the questions posed:

  • Residency (103 questions)
  • Work, qualifications, pensions, and benefits (36 questions)
  • Travel (15 questions)
  • Healthcare (24 questions)
  • Passport and nationality (18 questions)
  • Miscellaneous (16 questions)
  • Returning to the UK (5 questions)
  • Education (1 question)

Residency was therefore by far the most recurrent theme, with particular concerns about registration for residency permits being raised. The Embassy reiterates that anyone previously exercising free movement rights in Germany may be granted a residency permit, with permanent permits only being granted automatically to those who have been in Germany five years or longer.  The Embassy also confirms that the residency permit is not tied to any German language requirements, nor to employment status.

Other recurring themes included questions about the future status of health insurance policies for UK citizens in Germany (S1), queries about dual citizenship and the position of family members of different nationalities, and about potential issues in travelling into Germany and returning to the UK.

The FB live event created on the whole very positive feedback from BiG members and the Embassy committed a significant amount of manpower and resources to the event.    We hope this will set the precedent for further FB live events in Germany and across Europe as British citizens living in the EU face increasing uncertainty and anxiety about their lives and livelihoods living in Europe.

You can also access the full Embassy document with all of the questions and responses.

BiG Chair Jane Golding on BBC Today Programme

 

British in Germany’s chair and co-chair of British in Europe Jane Golding was interviewed by Nick Robinson on BBC Radio 4’s flagship news programme TODAY on 2nd September 2019.

Jane Golding, Chair of British in Germany e.V.

You can listen to the interview here by spooling 2 hours and 33 minutes through the programme. (8.33am BST)

Nick Robinson, BBC Today Programme Presenter

 

 

Urgent MEP Pledge 2019

British in Germany urges everyone to use their right to vote in the European Parliament elections on 23-26 May. Together with British in Europe and the3million, we encourage you to contact MEP candidates in your region (whether in the UK or other EU country) and ask them to sign the pledge to keep citizens’ rights on the agenda and guarantee our rights fully in the next European Parliament. If you are meeting any candidates at hustings or other European election events, please ask them to sign the pledge!

If you have decided to vote in the UK:

Click here to write to your existing UK MEP https://www.writetothem.com

Click here to see the list of candidates in your region (UK) https://whocanivotefor.co.uk

The pledge:

As a candidate for the European Parliament elections 2019:

  1. I support a commitment before the October deadline to safeguard citizens’ rights at EU/UK level, whatever the outcome of Brexit.
  2. I support a strong stance by the European Parliament on the protection of citizens’ rights in any negotiations on a future EU/UK relationship.
  3. I support freedom of movement, and will conduct an honest debate to explain the opportunities it has given people across Europe and ensure this right is protected in the next European Parliament.

Ask your MEP candidate to tweet a photo of themselves with a printout of the pledge below to @the3million, @britishineurope and @britishingermany

#thecitizenspledge #BritishinEuropeVote #BritishinGermanyvote

Further information:

The pledge is aimed mostly at British MEP candidates but can be endorsed by MEP candidates from other EU27 countries to support protecting the rights of EU citizens in the UK and British citizens in the EU27.

For further detail on how to secure rights by the October deadline, see https://bit.ly/t3m_BiE_April2019.

British in Germany does not endorse individual candidates or any political parties.

Note to candidates:

Please take a picture of yourself with the pledge on a tablet or on paper and tweet it.   Here is the pledge which can be enlarged and is also available on the 3 million.org.uk website and here on our BiG page:

We suggest you use the wording below:  As an MEP I will protect the rights of @the3million EU citizens in UK and 1.2 million @BritishinEurope #citizenspledge #the3millionvote

If you want to check out who has signed so far, you can visit the Signatories page.