Update on British in Germany’s behind the scenes work regarding the future status of UK citizens in Germany
Despite both the impact of Covid-19 and the lack of progress on a future trade deal between the EU and the UK, the British in Germany e.V. advocacy team has continued high level discussions and negotiations with German authorities at both national and regional levels about the future status of UK citizens in Germany. This has included face-to-face meetings with representatives of Berlin, NRW and Bavaria. For the the last three years we have continued to push hard for a declaratory or registration system rather than a constitutive or application system, and had intensified our lobbying on this once it was clear that the UK would leave the EU with a Withdrawal Agreement.
On 24th March 2020, the Bundesministerium des Inneren (BMI – equivalent of the UK Home office) published a Gesetzentwurf (draft law) describing how Germany proposes to enact the Withdrawal Agreement rights of UK citizens after the end of the Transition period.
British in Germany e.V. were invited to give formal input on the initial draft. Our “Stellungnahme” (position paper) was prepared by the legal professionals in our Verein and submitted to the BMI. It is now published here along with a revised draft (Kabinettfassung). Although this is not a final version of the law and may be further modified during the review stages, we want to give you some insight into the current thinking of the German government and our view of the present position.
The Gesetzentwurf is basically about providing relevant documentation to confirm our rights to remain in Germany and to continue living here – as we have done up till now. The Gesetzentwurf uses the term “Alt-Briten” to describe us, as opposed to “Neu-Briten” which refers to UK citizens who arrive in Germany after the end of the Transition period. Some form of document will be needed to show that we are “Alt-Briten” with rights covered by the Withdrawal Agreement.
The proposed law suggests that Germany should adopt, as standard, an approach known as “declaratory”. If passed into law, this would mean that the rights of all those registered and living in Germany at the end of the Transition period would be considered confirmed. The process would then require visiting the local Ausländerbehörde (Foreigner’s Office) to register and be issued with an individual document (Aufenthaltsdokument) to confirm these rights. Those who already have a Daueraufenthaltsbescheinigung-EU (Certificate of the right of permanent residence for EU citizens) would be able to swap this for the new document.
This appears to be very good news and is something that British in Germany e.V. has worked tirelessly to advocate – to have a declaratory or registration system and not a constitutive or application system which would require some form of application to secure our individual rights. It is especially good news because the UK and a number of other EU countries have opted for a constitutive or application system, requiring citizens to apply for their status under the Withdrawal Agreement before the authorities will grant their individual rights.
This is particularly positive since indications were that Germany intended to take that more complicated ‘constitutive’ option, which would require a lot more bureaucratic work and risk some “Alt-Briten” falling through the cracks. We firmly believe that from the perspective of UK citizens in Germany, the declaratory or registration approach is by far the best option. Thanks to input from our members, we’ve had lots of case studies to back up our points in face-to-face discussions with the German authorities and as a basis for extensive written input. We have also been able to argue, with strong evidence, that this approach is the best option for the German authorities. It has been clear that our inputs and views were valued and taken seriously. Based on the meetings we’ve had with several of the Länder where large numbers of British citizens live, and exchanges with contacts in the Bundestag, we believe that our analysis and input really did make a difference.
Who is covered by the Withdrawal Agreement?
If you are a UK citizen and resident in Germany on the final date of the Transition period (currently 31st December 2020), the Withdrawal Agreement accords you rights. Your partner and dependents may also be accorded rights as a result of yours. For more information on the Withdrawal Agreement and what rights it covers (https://britishineurope.org/)
More information on Germany’s Gesetzentwurf
If you are interested to look at the actual text of the Gesetzentwurf, you can find it here. Health warning: it is written in quite ‘technical’ German legal form and covers not only the position of UK citizens but also some other changes which Germany wishes to include in its law on EU citizens’ rights.
British in Germany e.V.
April 2020 (updated June 2020)