Category Archives: British in Germany Event

Report on the march to Westminster with the People’s Vote – 23rd June

Under bright skies and warm weather British in Germany, together with other coalition groups from around Europe and under the joint banner of British in Europe gathered in London to join the People’s Vote March.

We met in front of Buckingham Palace at midday and the Queen considerately arranged for a military band to play us some music (OK, I think it was the regular Changing of the Guard, but it certainly added to the atmosphere).

Just inside Green Park we prepared our banners before heading to Pall Mall to join the march. In happy spirits we marched proudly up Pall Mall for 200 metres before coming to a shuddering halt due to the sheer number of people who had also come from far and wide to have their voices heard.


Along the way there was much interest in our flags and banners with people coming up and asking us questions. Germans in the UK were particularly interested in the situation for Brits living in Germany. And for us from Germany it was great to meet each other, having often only exchanged emails or at best been on either end of a video conference, and then to also see our partner organisations from France, Italy, Holland, Luxembourg, Spain, etc.

It was wonderful to see so many come out to show how important the negotiations are in their lives. We hope that, along with our continuing lobbying campaign both in the UK and the EU, we will be able to make a difference to the final outcome of the withdrawal agreement. The fight is not over!


We later discovered that around 100,000 people (although it felt like many more) attended the march, and together we were able to (finally) march up Pall Mall, around Trafalgar Square, down Parliament Street and into Parliament Square at approximately 14:30. In the square we listened to speeches projected on a large screen, this included Vince Cable of the LibDems, Caroline Lucas of the Greens, Anna Soubry of the Conservatives, Gina Miller and Tony Robinson (who had a “cunning plan”, well not so cunning as it was the People’s Vote).

There was a fair amount of coverage from the media and here are a few links to their videos and articles below:

From Channel 4
From ITV
From the BBC
From the Daily Mail and strangely silent !
From Tagesschau (in German) – starting at 6:40
From Open Britain
From Scientists for EU
From Sky News

The People’s Vote


As the organisers, the People’s Vote also has coverage of the event.

You can also sign the People’s Vote Petition by clicking on the image:

Report on BiG Marching in Berlin – 23rd June

On Saturday 23th June while the People’s Vote march was taking place in London, 2000 people gathered before Friedrichstrasse S-Bahn station to march for a New Europe. Amongst the fifty or so official partners was a small group of members from the British in Germany’s Berlin section. ‘Bedeckt’ with EU blue and gold and carrying the placards provided with slogans like “für ein Europa ohne Mauern” – for a Europe without walls.

The atmosphere was positive, happy and peaceful; we even made the policemen smile. Our first stop was the British embassy, here Emma Corris our wonderful intern made a speech about her personal vision for Europe. Was followed by a poem written and performed by Rachel Marriott another British in Germany member. During the speeches we linked up via phone with the Spanish contingent who held a vigil in Madrid. The crowd then waved tissues in a symbol of saying goodbye to the UK while singing we’ll meet again. The singing was led spontaneously by Rachel Marriott.

We carried on marching down to Bebelplatz where 22 more European visionaries presented their ideas and thoughts on the future of Europe. This was concluded with a mass signing of an open letter to the chancellor Angela Merkel detailing how we see her future duty to protect and reform Europe. The protest ended with a European viking clap inspired by the Icelandic football fans.

– reporting by Rachel Marriott

Transcript of Emma Corris’s speech

We are standing in a city that was divided by a wall not thirty years ago. That wall left scars on a nation, and so too will scars be left on the many British in Europe and the Europeans in the UK, without dual nationality, without permanent residence, who after December 2020 will not be able to leave to visit their loved ones for fear that they might not be allowed to return. Stranded on the wrong side of the wall no matter which side they are standing.

The UK government has a vision, a vision of an invisible glass wall between the UK and Europe, they imagine that Europe will look in at us through our glass wall and wish for what we had, instead we stand to be stranded in our glass bubble watching the world move on while we are prisoners to the past and the fool’s dream of what Britain used to be.

The UK government has a vision where their people in Europe will have to choose between their birth nationality and becoming a citizen of their host country, a vision where relationships across borders will struggle to flourish, a vision where a future generation of workers will not be on a level playing field with their European peers still entitled to free movement. A vision by which those who did not get to vote stand to be most affected.

Have we learnt nothing from the past that we are stronger together, not divided?

I have a vision of a future where there are no walls.

Where borders represent only what they are: arbitrary lines.

Where people of different cultures, creeds, and races can choose to live, work, study, and love where they want, standing side to side with others.
I have a vision of A Europe of nations sharing, evolving, improving together, a place where the wars we waged in the last century can never again happen.

A vision of Britain in tandem with Europe, rather than harking back to the bygone days of a country whose ‘success’ and national identity was built on the systematic oppression and enslavement of nations and cultures around the world. And a past where its female and POC and LGBTQ citizens were treated as inferiors.

I have a vision of multi-lingual children, raised with understanding and appreciation for all cultures and what they each have to offer.

I have a vision of an open Europe, a vision that was the reality of my predecessors, and myself two years ago. A vision that we currently stand to lose.

You can also watch a video of the speech on our YouTube channel.

RBB (Berlin’s regional channel) also reported on the march (in Germany).

Report on BREXIT – What it means for Brits living in Germany – Frankfurt am Main

British in Germany held its first information evening in Frankfurt am Main on Thursday, 21st June. 180 Brits living in and around Frankfurt attended the event, organised together with the Honorary British Consulate and with the support of the Deutsch-Britische Gesellschaft. Almost another 100 people applied to attend the event, showing the importance of such events.

The event served as an opportunity for Consul General, Rafe Courage, to provide an update on the on-going withdrawal negotiations and for British in Germany to voice its concerns regarding the rights Brits stand to lose if no effort is made to put certain issues, most significantly FoM, back on the negotiation table.

During the Q&A session a number of attendees highlighted the delay and lack of transparency with which citizenship applications are being processed in Hesse. There was also an avid debate on family reunification – the definition of ‘dependents’ under the current text of the withdrawal agreement – and frustration expressed at the uncertainty students face: will their qualifications be recognized post Brexit; are they excluded from acquiring German citizenship by moving to the UK to pursue higher education? Unfortunately, due to the unclear nature of the current draft withdrawal agreement many questions could not be answered, with the aim now being that these concerns are brought up in negotiations.

While the Consul General asserted that the concerns of Brits were being heard, the audience asserted that more should be done. A second event has been earmarked for autumn, to which a representative of the local Länderbehörde will be invited to answer some of the more administrative questions.

Special thanks goes to all those who attended, Consul General Rafe Courage, and particularly to Amanda Diel who both organised and spoke at the event.

All photographs (c) British in Germany

Report on BiG picnic 4pm at Tempelhof: Tag der Offenen Gesellschaft! 16th June

On Saturday 16th June British in Germany took part in the Tag der Offenen Gesellschaft. This was organised by the NGO Die Offene Gesellschaft, the idea being a day when we all show our commitment to open society, democracy, openness, diversity, and freedom. Across the country, communities were encouraged to gather together at tables set up in local parks and Innenhöfe, not dissimilar to a British street party! This was the second year of der Tag der Offenen Gesellschaft, and was a relative success with tables being set up from Bonn to Berlin, Hamburg to Munich, and many towns in between!

British in Germany gathered at Tempelhofer Feld along with Die Offene Gesellschaft and Pulse of Europe among others to get together and have a picnic in the name of democracy. Several members of BiG came along and were able to hear the speeches made by “Die Offene Gesellschaft”. They focussed on the ways in which those who support democracy, openness, and diversity are in the majority, but need to make as much political noise as those who actively work against those things which we strive for in a fair world.

The event itself was blessed with great weather (and great food!) and offered an opportunity for some of BiG’s newer members to be able to meet with others and share their concerns about the decisions to be made on the draft WA in the coming months, and specifically, how it would affect them.

If you would like to know more about the Tag der Offenen Gesellschaft check out this great video with Katja Riemann of FUGoethe, and Oliver Masucci from Dark (Netflix).

We also got to meet them in person!

Image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/michellzappa/
Disclaimer: Actual food may vary!

A successful evening for British Nationals In Hannover

Lower Saxony-based Brits met up in Hannover in mid-May for a lobbying update from Jane Golding, and to relay their citizen rights concerns. Major themes included acquiring German citizenship and continued FoM rights post-Brexit. Several attendees voiced anger that acquiring German citizenship after Brexit may force them to give up their British nationality, leaving some worried about being able to return to the UK to care for their elderly parents or other family members in the future. Others were concerned about the lack of clarity over what administrative procedures may end up being required, including whether UK citizens would need to apply for a Schengen travel document—a refusal of which may leave people “trapped” in Germany with fewer rights than other third-country nationals.

Attendees also registered frustration at many still unresolved ambiguities in the application for permanent residence, saying German authorities weren’t being clear about how such status might be converted post-Brexit. No official representing Lower Saxony was present, but the group will continue to lobby to have someone present at future meetings who may be able to resolve some of the current ambiguities.

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.