Category Archives: British in Germany Event

Report: Munich Beer Garden Get-Together Friday, 25 May

Beer and Brexit: This was a winning combination for the 40 or so Brits who came along to a beer garden in Munich on Friday, 25 May to talk about the current situation. Rechtsanwalt and Solicitor David Hole delivered a sobering analysis of where we are now and the risks ahead. Then there was a chance to discuss more detailed aspects and ask individual questions in smaller groups.

So, who came along?

A wide cross-section of the local British population: new arrivals and long-standing residents, working and non-working, employed and self-employed, researchers, IT professionals, designers, translators, consultants, with and without family dependents. Age range: 20-ish to 70+. Among them, too, was a growing number of “new Bavarians” – much relieved Brits who have recently obtained German citizenship (while retaining British) to give them greater security for their future in the EU and the UK. With the option of citizenship not on the table for more recent arrivals, interest among that group focused on permanent residence permits. Some are even considering working towards obtaining German citizenship (possible after 8 years of residence) and then giving up their British citizenship (dual citizenship only being permissible while the UK is still in the EU).

What issues were discussed?

Primarily those issues that are still unresolved as per the current version of the draft withdrawal agreement:

  • Freedom of movement (FoM) across the EU27 post Brexit. Without FoM, young British professionals hoping for an international career in the EU will be seriously disadvantaged.
  • Mutual recognition of qualifications. Anyone relying on qualifications to carry out their job needs to get informed in good time.
  • Self-employed + provision of cross-border services.

For the most up-to-date and accurate information on these issues, you can read more at: https://britishineurope.org/where-does-the-march-agreement-leave-me/
And on residency: http://www.remaininfrance.org/citizens-rights.html

 Other concerns

These also reflected the diversity of situations among the Brits present. Specific mention was made of, for example, pensioners and healthcare (S1 forms), fixed-term contracts, the problem of Brits being excluded from future participation in EU-funded projects, European schools and the continued provision of native-English-language teachers, the recognition of the European Baccalaureate and increased fees in UK universities, plus obtaining citizenship for family members with mental health problems, even a petition to the Queen about restoration of voting rights.

Well, is the glass half full or half empty? Everybody has a different answer. It´s the same with Brexit. Some people have reason to be optimistic. Others will have a bleaker outlook. But staying informed – keeping an eye on the glass – is not a bad thing to do.

Prost!

Ingrid Taylor

British in Bavaria

10% of Brits in Leipzig attend first BiG event

On Wednesday 16 May, we were delighted to be able to host the first ever British in Germany event in Leipzig. The event was attended by Mr. Tim Jones, head of the Economic, Finance and Trade Team at the British Embassy, and featured a talk from Daniel Tetlow, co-founder of BiG. David Smith, Head of the Leipzig International School, very kindly agreed to moderate the evening.

There were  roughly 60 attendees which, on the basis of latest German statistics, means that 10 per cent of registered Brits in Leipzig turned up. Particular thanks go to Emma Corris and Raj Dahya for their sterling recruitment work over the last week.

It was impressive to see the wide range of people–not just Brits–who came to ask questions and to show their support, from Italian teachers to business people and German immigration lawyers.

The evening began with a speech from Mr. Tim Jones with the central message that you will be ‘largely protected under the Withdrawal Agreement’.  The issue, of course, is what exactly is the definition of ‘largely protected’.

Daniel Tetlow from BiG started by taking to task David Davis’ claim of 29 March 2018:

We have secured the rights of the million Brits living in the EU and the 3 million EU citizens living in the UK – meaning that they can look to their futures with confide

nce, knowing that they can carry on living their lives as they do now.”

Tetlow said quite simply that this was not the case, and that this illustrated the work that still needs to be done by citizens’ rights groups like British in Germany and British in Europe.  When Tetlow went on to describe the impact of the present draft Withdrawal Agreement, it elicited looks of shock and horror from many of the audience.

Though it is encouraging for BiG to see that we can provide some clarity on just what exactly is and is not ‘protected under the withdrawal agreement’, we were struck by the countless examples of the impact that curtailing free movement will have on so many residing in Germany. Free movement became the predominant topic of the discussion, and it soon became evident that ensuring rights only in the host country will not be sufficient for many individuals’ livelihoods. There were testimonies from musicians and stagehands who travel across many EU27 states for work who are unlikely to qualify as frontier workers; there were those who have been in Germany for less than 5 years with family across the world who fear that they cannot leave Germany to visit their relatives; and then there were those who fear for the security and educational rights of their children. Leipzig was a success in terms of BiG’s goal to inform more Britons about their changing rights, and hopefully to motivate a BiG Leipzig group.

Our thanks go to David Smith for his excellent moderation of the event, and Emma Corris and Raj Dahya for their invaluable help in recruiting for and organising the logistics of the evening.  Next up, Dresden: watch this space!

An article was posted on The Leipzig Glocal – Leipzig’s insider Blog and Webzine in English.  before the event took place. It is still an interesting read and can be found on the website here.

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.

 

Embassy BREXIT Open Eve 13 Feb

Click here to view the full speeches

from left to right: Jane Golding: Chair of British in Germany and British in Europe, Ulf Landgraf-Wölfelschneider: Berlin Senate, HMA Sir Sebastian Wood, Simon Wells: Head of Communications and Bilateral Relations British Embassy Berlin.

On the 13th of February 2018, around 350 Brits met at the British Embassy in Berlin to discuss their fate in the face of Brexit.  British in Germany and the British Ambassador hosted the evening, allowing an open discussion on the future status of UK nationals living in Germany. The British Ambassador Sir Sebastian Wood opened the evening emphasising the importance of securing citizens’ rights followed by the Chair of British in Germany and British in Europe, Jane Golding, who mapped out the many citizens’ issues that remain unresolved.

British Forces in Germany/BiG launch 23 Feb

British in Germany launched their first British in Germany/British Forces Germany Paderborn meeting on Friday night 23rd February in Elsen, Padernborn, North Rheinnwestphalia.
Mr Roy McIntosh, a military man himself, made a sterling effort organising the launch: 51 serving and retired military and their families turned up to discuss the issues they are facing with Brexit and a Q&A video link was set up with Daniel Tetlow, co-founder of British in Germany.
The majority of those that attended intend to stay in Germany post Brexit and they discussed issues some of which are particular to British military serving in Germany as well as pensions, future German residency and dual citizenship.
The group decided to set up a BiG BFG Paderborn group, communicate via Whatsapp and Roy McIntosh will be announcing the next BiG Paderborn meeting in the next few days.
If you would like more information or would like to support Roy McIntosh in the organsation of BiG Paderborn, please contact him at big_paderborn(at)roy-mcintosh.de

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

Berlin/Embassy Brexit event 13 Feb

Discussion of Brexit implications for UK nationals in Germany – British Embassy Berlin, 13/02/2018

On the 13th of February, around 350 Brits met at the British Embassy in Berlin to discuss their fate in the face of Brexit. British in Germany and the British Ambassador hosted the evening, allowing an open discussion on the future status of UK nationals living in Germany. The British Ambassador Sir Sebastian Wood opened the evening with his speech, emphasising the importance of securing citizens’ rights:

HMA citizens' rights speech Feb 2018

Thank you to all those who came to the Embassy last night for a Q&A on Citizens’ Rights hosted by British Ambassador Sir Sebastian Wood. You can hear his summary of progress made so far in securing citizens’ rights by clicking on the video link. Many important issues were raised as well by audience members, including on the process of acquiring dual British and German citizenship and retaining it after Brexit. One other key concern raised was the eligibility of UK nationals to continue to travel and work around the EU. As the Ambassador says, we have pushed strongly for this in Phase One of negotiations and will continue to raise it as negotiations progress. Thank you, too, to those of you who provided questions related to your concerns prior to the discussion evening. Many of the themes are covered in the video. On other questions we will try to reply directly to you. All of the concerns raised will continue to be shared with colleagues in London. You can also leave feedback at https://ow.ly/VyFV30ioONr

Posted by Brits in Germany on Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Posted by FB group ‘Brits in Germany’, 14/02/2018

Photo taken by Laurence Genillard, 13/02/2018

© Paul Samengo-Turner, 13/02/2018

His speech was followed by Jane Golding, Chair of BiE and BiG. Audio recordings from her speech below:

©  Laurence Genillard, 13/02/2018

© Paul Samengo-Turner, 13/02/2018

 

 

 

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