All posts by Ingrid Taylor

Report on the open Evening For British Citizens in Nuremberg in Caritas-Pirckheimer-Haus – July 18th

Open Evening for British Citizens in Nuremberg, 18 July 2018

Organised by: HM Embassy Berlin, British in Bavaria, British in Germany

About 60 UK citizens attended a citizens’ rights event organised in Nuremberg by the British Embassy on 18 July 2018.

Simon Kendall, HM Consul-General for Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg.
Simon Kendall, HM Consul-General for Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg.

The new HM Consul-General for Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, Simon Kendall, gave an address on the position of HM Government on the question of citizens’ rights in the EU27 after the withdrawal of the UK. This is and has been the number one priority for the government, he reported, and more progress had been made in this area than in any other of the withdrawal negotiations. Citizens would be able to live and work as before in the country of residence as at the date of withdrawal. Their right to permanent residence in that country would be lost only after a period of absence in excess of five years. A transition period would be implemented ending 31.12.2020, during which existing EU entitlements would continue to apply or be acquired. Those include, for example, the right to be joined by family members (children, grandchildren, dependent parents and grandparents) and the right of equal treatment. Questions of social security, Kendall pointed out, were in the main resolved, in particular aggregation of contributions to state pension schemes. Health care should remain as it is, with the continued right to export benefits.

HMG is conscious of the significance to many citizens of the right to free onward movement within the EU27 and its loss. It was, unfortunately, not within the EU’s negotiating mandate to address this, but HMG will continue to pursue it, he said. Professional qualifications recognised or in the course of recognition as at the date of withdrawal would retain their recognition, but the position thereafter remains for negotiation. There should be visa-free travel.


The UK has set out its stall in relation to the future relationship with the EU27 in the recent White Paper. Their focus is on reaching a Withdrawal Agreement by October.

David Hole, speaking for British in Germany and British in Bavaria, highlighted the very real concerns and anxieties of British citizens in Germany, who do not regard their position in any way as settled, or who feel that these concerns are not being properly appreciated or attended to. This was more than amply demonstrated by the many and detailed questions that followed.

David Hole, "British in Bavaria" and "British in Germany".
David Hole, “British in Bavaria” and “British in Germany”.

These related, amongst others, to dual/triple citizenship (e.g. whether there will be a subsequent requirement to make a choice retrospectively), qualifying periods and key dates for permanent residence permits post-Brexit, children´s status, complex issues of return to the UK with non-British family members, contingency plans for a no-deal result, validity of driving licences and access to pensions and pension contributions.

The HM Consul-General appreciated the anxiety on these issues and assured the audience that he would follow up on the unanswered questions. For this purpose the Embassy and British in Germany noted down all the questions.

by David Hole

Images (c) British in Germany

Munich Infoabend 27 Feb

Plenty of questions – any answers?

British in Germany’s Bavaria group ‘British in Bavaria’ hosted a lively discussion evening with two representatives from HM government on 27 February. David Hole delivered a sober analysis of where we are now and HM Consul-General Paul Heardman and Tim Jones from the British Embassy in Berlin fielded questions from the floor.

Here´s David Hole´s report on the evening:

British in Bavaria 27th. February, 2018
Report by David Hole on a discussion evening with
HM Consul-General Paul Heardman and Tim Jones, British Embassy, Berlin.

More than 80 UK Nationals turned up to the Kolpinghaus in Munich to hear the talks from representatives of HMG on citizens’ rights and to participate in the discussion.

I introduced the topic with a brief review of the stage reached so far. Tim Jones then spoke for HMG. He had initially expected a decision on citizens’ rights by September/October last year. In fact it took until December and there are still some questions open. Both sides are conscious of the huge value that EU and British citizens have contributed to the countries where they reside. To achieve agreement on their rights remains the highest priority.

Economic activity is not considered to be a citizens’ rights issue, but a question for phase II of the negotiations. The Prime Minister is to deliver a major speech on Friday, 2nd. March on the UK’s vision on how this phase is to go forward. The British Ambassador from Germany was present at Chequers when this was discussed in cabinet.

There are two agreements: the withdrawal agreement, which should not be as difficult as may seem, requiring a qualified majority on the EU side. This should be in place by October and include citizens’ rights. Then there is the question of how transition may work. UK would wish existing trade agreements to remain in force for the length of transition.

It is recognised that organising an election to the European Parliament would present great difficulty, if the UK had not departed the EU formally by March 2019. The legal text of the points agreed in the technical notes for Phase I should be available to-morrow (Wednesday, 28th. February). The question of freedom of movement (FoM) is still open. HMG will continue to raise this. There will be a continuing engagement procedure with British citizens. HMG is aware of and supports British in Germany. There remains a need to reach individual citizens to ensure we are prepared for it.

The question and discussion part was opened.

In reply to the question on where the information and observations generated this evening would go, it was stated that this goes to the Foreign Office and to the Dept. for Exiting the EU. There was scepticism expressed at the benefit of this, although there was an assurance that this is faithfully reported.

The UK does not require its citizens to relinquish British citizenship if another citizenship is taken. Control of immigration into the UK is a matter that requires a more developed policy. Some form of registration is going to be necessary.

A broad range of issues was covered in the questions, but the most pressing points were the loss/retention of British citzenship on naturalisation in Germany and the loss of the right to vote in the UK. This latter point continues to engender considerable anger, which became ever more apparent as the evening progressed. It was stressed that, as long as the UK is a member state of the EU, i.e until March 2019, those granted German citizenship by that date will be entitled to retain their British citizenship as well. Once dual citizenship is acquired, there will be no later requirement to choose between them. This is also confirmed by the German authorities.

There was assurance that pensions would continue to be uprated, and that state pension contributions would continue to be aggregated. However, it also emerged that the question of private pension has not yet been addressed, it being regarded as economic activity. Where payments are made into a private pension scheme in the UK, it is intended that this should continue to be possible.

There are no plans for a second referendum. This of itself would require an Act of Parliament. The Private Member’s Bill on votes for life currently before Parliament has just passed its second reading and proceeds to committee stage. There is no firm indication as to whether this will be passed into law or when.

The question of the Irish border after Brexit was raised and proved to be as intractable in the discussion that followed as it has been on every other occasion it has been raised.

The evening ended in something of an acrimonious atmosphere, as anger at disenfranchisement and the uncertainty for the future position escalated. From my subjective assessment, this comes partly too from the disappointment of the hopes that people have that HMG will say something positive on what is to be done on citizens’ rights. The position of HMG on this question, together with the position it takes on settled status for EU citizens in the UK, does not make any improvement in the situation likely.

 

Bavaria Ottobrunn infoeve 19 Feb

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: https://www.sueddeutsche.de/muenchen/landkreismuenchen/brexit-run-auf-den-doppelpass-1.3880548

Munich Brits meet MEP Maria Noichl – Report

A report on an open meeting with MEP Maria Noichl
Munich, 11.1.2018

Summary (Scroll down below photos for full report):
Bavarian MEP Maria Noichl (SPD) spoke to a packed audience of Brits (and Germans) in Munich on Thursday 11 January. All were eager to hear a report direct from a Member of the European Parliament at this critical juncture in the negotiations. MEPs have both a voice and a vote in stage 2. Maria did not disappoint. In a friendly but forthright Bavarian style, she made it plain that the MEPs regret yet respect the decision of the UK to leave, but that the UK´s departure would not be allowed to threaten the integrity of the EU, nor to water down its four freedoms. She listened carefully to our concerns about the rights of UK citizens in the EU; she sympathised and assured us that the EP is indeed going to continue pushing to resolve the outstanding issues in our favour (continuing FoM for UKinEU, frontier workers etc.), as per the text of the EP Resolution of 13 December 2017: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+TA+P8-TA-2017-0490+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN

The audience appreciated Maria´s willingness to engage with us and welcomed her acknowledgement that she and her fellow MEPs are indeed representing the interests of British people in Europe, many of whom have no voice or vote in elections and referendums in their own country.

The dialogue with MEPs will continue.

Photos: 1+2, Phil Kindermann, pjayphotos.com. 3 Clive Ashbolt

 

Full report (David Hole):

British in Bavaria 11.01.2018
Brexit negotiations, content and stage, from the viewpoint of the European Parliament (EP) With Maria Noichl, SPD, MdEP

Principal points of Maria’s talk:
She is not directly involved on the committees charged with Brexit. She sits on the committees for agriculture, womens’ rights, development and Africa/Caribbean. The effects of the UK’s departure however reach into the deliberations of these committees. The UK’s contributions in these fields has been significant and will be missed.
British MEPs urged their colleagues in the EP not to get involved in the referendum procedure in 2016, for fear of being seen as meddling.
The EP recognises that a decision has been taken by the UK to leave the EU and will not undertake anything to change this. However, the feeling in the EP is that a hard line must be taken and maintained in relation to the UK’s withdrawal. There can be no half measures. Completely in or completely out – wer draußen ist, ist drauß’. The four freedoms of the internal market will not be deviated from.
The EU is strongly wary of the UK. The EP is resolute, to go the hard way. There will no blackmail and no hostage taking. Gibraltar has not yet even been spoken about.
The EP’s resolution of 13th. December 2017, on the position reached in the first stage of withdrawal negotiations, was approved by 550 yes votes, 62 no votes and 68 abstentions. The rights of all citizens are at the very top of the list, but it is unavoidable that this will involve some diminution, i.e some sacrifices and/or collateral damage.
A transition period, if agreed, will involve full payment and no vote. Nobody however wants to see the UK done down. It is to be borne in mind that the trade agreement with Canada, possibly favoured now as Canada ++, took seven years to negotiate.
There will need to be progress reports. On the day of withdrawal, the UK will be a third state for the EU. EP will remain clear and firm.
The EP has no formal role in the negotiations themselves. The result of those negotiations will comprise one packet, to be put before the EP for either approval or rejection. The EP cannot make changes to the packet. What might happen after a possible rejection is not clear. Agreements for the EU are reached in total as a whole, there are no piecemeal provisions. This is how the EU functions.
As to the current stage in the negotiations, the bones are there, but there is no meat on them.
Citizens’ rights must not be used as extortion. Reciprocity also is not static. Should the UK in future make an alteration to the position reached in the Withdrawal Agreement, then it would have to reckon with a response from the EU.

From the discussion thereafter, in no particular order:
The disenfranchisement of British citizens in the EU after Brexit is unjust and the anger that the exclusion from voting generates is understandable, but not something the she can do anything about;
She did accept that British citizens in Bavaria are her constituents;
There is constant provocation of the EU from Farage & co. The flag waving is in common only with French Front National. She will follow up on freedom of movement for Brits in EU27 after departure, as well as the idea of a form of european citizenship.
Love is not always for ever – the EU will need better and clearer procedures in future to regulate how a member state can leave, or be required to leave.

 

British in Germany – Meetup in Neu-Ulm, 1 Sept. – Report

Report
A small group of Brits from the Ulm and Stuttgart area got together in the Schloessle Brauerei in Neu-Ulm on Friday September 1st to discuss Brexit, the personal impact on them and we exchanged ideas, experiences and useful addresses.
While the campaigning / lobbying side is seen as very important, the focus was more on understanding each persons situation and options as we go forward.
We borrowed heavily on the experience and knowledge of the Munich group.  I think everyone found it helpful in clarifying the options and understanding the potential implications of Brexit on all.
We need to see what the demand is like, but we will pencil in another event in about a month.
Colin McKell-Redwood

Brexit Meetup in Munich

Brexit in Bayern – Information, action and support

A new monthly Meetup group has started in Bavaria, set up by the Munich section of British in Germany. We offer information, action and support for anyone affected by Brexit. Come along and talk about what´s on your mind over a glass of beer. Find out the facts, plan your strategy, discuss the progress of the negotiations.

The first Brexit in Bayern Meetup is on Monday, 7 August.
Subsequent meetups take place on the first Monday of every month.

www.meetup.com/Brexit-in-Bayern/
(See also the Events section of this website)

 

Davis meets Bavarian Minister-President for closed talks

British in Munich group protest outside talks

[Scroll down for German version / Siehe unten für deutsche Fassung]

Brits in Bavaria protest outside Davis’ meeting with Seehofer. Photo: Rob Harrison.

A group of about 20 Brits gathered in the pouring rain outside the Bavarian State Chancellery in Munich yesterday (July 26) to express our dissatisfaction about the Brexit negotiations. Inside were Bavaria´s Minister-President Horst Seehofer and David Davis, Secretary of State for Exiting the EU. What was on the agenda is not known – the press had not been invited and no statement was issued. And the meeting was only announced very shortly before it took place, so the Brits in Munich had little time to get a protest together. The message on their quickly produced posters: Talk to us! Save our EU rights! The UK and EU flags, flying together in the wind, spoke their own language.

Brits in Europe – our concerns in a nutshell. Who is listening? Photo: Rob Harrison.

 

Disenfranchisement: Perhaps the No. 1 irritant for Brits abroad. And still no solution in sight. Photo: Rob Harrison

 

British in Bavaria sending a message in semaphore to Seehofer and Davis as they meet in the Bavarian State Chancellery on July 26, 2017. Photo: Rob Harrison.

Over 18,000 Brits live and work in Bavaria, and so far there has been very little consultation with us, from either the UK or the German authorities on our concerns as regards Brexit. We would welcome an opportunity – in the dry – to present our views in person.

Minister-President of Bavaria, Horst Seehofer, presents David Davis with a porcelain white lion on the occasion of his visit to Munich on 26 July 2017. Photo: Bayerische Staatskanzlei.

Bei strömendem Regen versammelte sich eine Gruppe von bis zu 20 Briten gestern vor der bayerischen Staatskanzlei, um ihrem Unmut über die Brexitverhandlungen Luft zu lassen. Drinnen saßen Ministerpräsident Seehofer und David Davis, Britischer Minister für den Austritt Großbritanniens aus der EU, zu einem nicht öffentlichen und sehr kurzfristig angekündigten Besuch. Die Botschaft auf den Plakaten der versammelten britischen Bürger in Bayern: Reden Sie mit uns! 18.000 Briten leben und arbeiten in Bayern, und sie sehen ihre EU-Rechte in Gefahr. Die hoch gehaltenen Flaggen sprachen eine unmißverständliche Sprache – sie wollen in der EU bleiben. Die Gruppe erweckte die Aufmerksamkeit der vielen vorbeifahrenden Autofahrer, die ihre Unterstützung mit lautem Hupen signalisierten. Der Gast aus Westminster und der Ministerpräsident haben den Protest sicherlich auch bemerkt, und die Briten hoffen nun auf eine baldige Einladung ins Trockene, wo sie ihre Sorgen und Ängste näher besprechen können.

 

 

Post-Election Brexit Beer Garden, Munich – Report.

Post-election round-up, Bayern-style

On 12 June, following the UK General elections, Munich-based Brits got together in true Bavarian style, to discuss the surprising result. Hope was high that the results now mark at least a change in the tone of the debate, if not (yet) in actual direction.
Notes were also compared on citizenship applications, UK pensions and the impact on careers.

Quo vadis Britannia?
Pondering the future

 

Süddeutsche Zeitung report on Munich Group

In a report published on 1 June 2017, the Süddeutsche Zeitung talks to Ingrid Taylor, one of the organisers of the Munich British in Germany Brexit meet-ups, about the negotiating stance being taken by the Westminster Government, and the uncertainties facing her and over 100,000 other Brits living and working in Germany.

Like many Brits living in Europe, Ingrid Taylor was not allowed to vote in the Brexit Referendum nor can she do so in the upcoming UK general elections, because of a ruling not allowing those who have lived outside the UK for more than 15 years to vote. The threat to the rights of Brits living in Germany and across Europe impacts on a wide variety of areas including work and residence (e.g. the ability of companies to send their British employees to work on projects elsewhere in the EU27), healthcare (e.g. continuation of payments for elderly parents in care in Germany), pensions (uprating of payments from UK) etc. The regular meet-ups in Munich are a kind of self-help group for sharing information and seeking advice.

Some 18,000 Brits live in Bavaria, 6,500 of them in Munich alone. Further events in Bavaria are planned for the coming weeks.

Click below to see a PDF of the article (takes a few moments to load)

SZ Article 1 June