All posts by Daniel

Covid 19 Virus update

The British in Germany e.V. National Steering Committee have consulted on Friday 13th March on the implications of the Covid 19 virus spread in Germany.  They agreed to put out the following statement.   Any questions or queries from members –  don’t hesitate to contact info(at)britishingermany.org

“In line with the recommendations being made by experts, the German Minister for Health and the Chancellor, British in Germany  e.V. is suspending all physical meetings including Stammtische and is asking its members not to participate in any further face to face BiG events until further notice.”

BiG Braunschweig group – meets for first time Thursday 20th

British in Braunschweig group meets for the first time on Thursday 20th February 

By Wendy Anne Kopisch (Organiser)  ** NOTE CHANGE OF DAY – 1 week later, same place, same time. 

What will we be talking about on Thursday 20th ?

That Brexit will probably not solve but rather exacerbate the very injustices it was supposed to solve?

That all the things for which Britain was respected the world over – not so much its former colonialism but rather its enduring politeness, grace in the event of setbacks, and diplomatic dexterity – have become hard to detect under the tirade of abuse from Farage & co?

That we made life decisions based on the assumption that the rights we had at birth would not suddenly be taken away from us by a vote in which many of us were not allowed to participate?

While all these thoughts have been with us a great deal over the past few weeks, months and years, and they are just as justified now as they were on that morning three and a half years ago, the focus on Thursday evening will be on looking as positively as possible to the immediate future.

Now that Brexit has happened, what next for Brits in Germany? What are the most important steps to take now? What do the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, currently in force until the end of the year, mean for us, and what happens after the end of 2020? We are fortunate and grateful that the German government has agreed generous and flexible conditions for Brits living here, and this will be the main topic on Thursday. Come and join us!

7 pm in the Rheinische Republik.

Looking forward to seeing you there!  Sign up here

What does election result mean for UK citizens in Germany?

The likely timetable

Firstly, given the large Tory majority, it is very likely that the October version of the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) will be passed by the UK parliament in January, or possibly even sooner. It then has to be ratified by the European Parliament, but it’s now pretty much a given that the UK will leave the EU on 31st January 2020 and that the WA will come into force then. The WA foresees a transition period that will run from 1st February 2020 until 31st December 2020. It also contains an article (Article 132) which would allow an extension of 1 or 2 years – if that is requested by July 2020.

Citizens’ rights and the WA

The citizens’ rights section of the WA remains almost entirely unchanged from the original version agreed by Theresa May a year ago, and it is this part of the Agreement that will cover the future legal rights of British people who are legally resident in an EU27 country on the last day of the transition period. (however long that turns out to be) The Agreement is EU wide and, although each EU27 country will institute its own procedures for things like residence cards etc, each individual EU country must respect the WA’s set out provisions.

Under the WA, most of our rights remain wholly unchanged until the end of the transition period, so at least until 31st December, 2020. This includes freedom of movement meaning it will still be possible for people to move freely from the UK to the EU, or within the EU during that period. We do however lose the right to stand and vote in local and European elections from Brexit day, i.e. as of 1st February 2020.

**What’s important to note is that once the Withdrawal Agreement is in force, we will be covered by it for our lifetimes whatever happens with future negotiations.  So please don’t think that the rights the WA provides for us are temporary – they are not; if you are legally resident in an EU country at the end of the transition period these rights will cover you for your lifetime.

Specific rights included in the WA

Crucially, the WA ensures not only the right to live and work in the country of residence at the end of the transition period, but also covers areas such as S1 healthcare rights, together with aggregation and uprating of pensions.   The WA agreement also says we will be able to leave our host country for up to 5 years without losing our right to return.

The WA does not cover everything, however.  If you want a quick overview on exactly what it does and doesn’t cover, have a look at this article that Kalba Meadows wrote recently for France Rights – it’s equally applicable to us in Germany.

Dual citizenship in Germany

For those of us in Germany who meet the conditions to apply for German citizenship during the transition period i.e. up to 31st December 2020, there is an additional benefit. The German government passed a law which entitles us, if we meet the conditions and apply for German citizenship during that time, to keep our UK citizenship as well.  This is normally only an option for EU citizens.

And finally, for the avoidance of any doubt or confusion here’s 3 important points:

  1. The media doesn’t always help by using interchangeable terms for things that are quite separate. For example there is often reference made to a ‘deal’ to refer to the trade deal that has to be struck during the transition period, and the terms ‘no deal’ and ‘crashing out’ to a situation where no trade deal can be agreed. Confusingly, these are the very same terms that the media have previously used to denote the UK leaving without a Withdrawal Agreement, but the meaning is very different. Once the Withdrawal Agreement becomes law – expected on 31 January 2020 – then our future rights contained within it are guaranteed whatever happens with the future trade deal. So a failure to conclude a trade deal might be a ‘no deal’ situation for the UK, but not for British citizens living in the EU. This is important to be clear about and at the moment is the subject of much confusion and concern.
  2. Johnson is bringing to Parliament the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill, and intends to use his majority to pass that Bill at second reading before the Christmas recess. In this Bill, he intends to insert a clause barring any extension to the Withdrawal Agreement’s transition period beyond 31st December 2020. BUT this Bill is NOT the same thing as the Withdrawal Agreement itself which has already been approved by the European Council and cannot now be amended without further negotiation (which is very unlikely to happen). The WA contains an article (Article 132) allowing an extension of 1 or 2 years to the transition period if it’s requested by July 2020. Clause 132 will remain in the WA even if Johnson’s bill passes with his proposed amendment barring an extension, which means that the UK government could agree to extend the transition period at any point up to July 2020 by passing a new bit of legislation.
  3. Once the WA becomes law, the ‘no deal’ legislation already passed in each of the EU27 countries becomes defunct, and we then have to wait for each country to publish details of how it intends to implement the WA for its British residents.

Further information sources:

  • If you are a member of the British in Europe Facebook Group, Kalba Meadows also posted information there on 14th December. She and Zoe Adams Green have also answered a number of questions there and you may find helpful. https://www.facebook.com/groups/britishineurope/

Become a member of British in Germany e.V. here for only 15 Euros a year to support BiG’s advocacy and campaigning work and  to get the latest up to date information on how Brexit will impact the lives of UK citizens living in Germany

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.