Category Archives: British in Germany

161% increase in Brits gaining German citizenship in 2017

The official, Germany-wide figures on naturalisation (Einbürgerung) in 2017 have been published today. You can find the German-language press release from the Federal Statistical office here.

In 2017, the overall number of applications for German citizenship was up 1.7%. Here’s a summary of the key data:

  • Brits (7,493) were second only to the Turks (14,984) in the overall figures (total: 112,211), which means 161% more Brits than in 2016!
  • Taking just EU countries, the Brits take the lead in naturalisation.
  • This represents 10% of the potential: only 1 in 10 Brits who are officially eligible for German citizenship have acquired it, but of course, we know there are still many applications in the pipeline.

Interestingly, around 9% of all Brits who became German citizens in 2017 applied from outside Germany. Most of them will be older people who lost their German citizenship during the Nazi period, and their descendants.

What’s more, while the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees uses 10 years registration in Germany as a base for calculating those eligible, in fact 8 years’ residence is standard, so the number for those eligible may in fact be even higher.

While Brits who’ve been granted German citizenship before the end of March 2019 can retain their British citizenship, and therefore have dual nationality, those whose German citizenship applications are not granted until after Brexit will face a choice between being British or German, but won’t be able to retain both.

No doubt the number of British Einbürgerung applications this year will be even higher…

When Emma met Eddie…

Meet British in Germany’s new intern Emma Corris.  Eddie Izzard did!

Emma’s only been in Berlin 3 weeks and has has already written a front page article in the local Leipzig Glocal, motivating a turnout of over 60 Brits at the first Leipzig British in Germany meeting on 16  May.

The whole British in Germany team want to welcome Emma to Berlin, and her work is already having a strong impact on the BiG campaigns going all out in the crucial few months ahead.

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.

David Davies before the House of Lords Select Committee

David Davies appeared before the House of Lords European Union Select Committee on Tuesday 1 May 2018 Meeting started at 16:28, ended 18.02.

UK Citizens in the EU were mentioned briefly at 16:53.

David Davies acknowledged that UK citizens did move between Member States, for example, living in one state while working in another but appeared to suggested this was confined to those living near borders and in the Low Countries, rather than acknowledging that this affected not only UK citizens living near another state’s border, but all UK citizens who for example live in one state and have to travel for work to one or more EU countries during the year or those who work on the basis of short or medium-term contracts with companies or clients in one or more EU countries, even if this does not mean they physically travel to those countries every day or on a regular basis.

He had also not appreciated that even retired UK citizens might want to move from one state to another as their retirement situation changed.

The short discussion can be found at 16:53 in the recording on the Parliament TV website below.

Brexit & Academia: Challenges for UK scholars in Germany


British citizens resident in European Union countries will be seriously affected by Brexit. Those working in research – whether at universities, public or private research institutes – are particularly vulnerable given the high degree of professional mobility that is widely viewed as essential for a successful career. Reputations in academia are increasingly dependent on international visibility and collaboration of the individual scholar.

The European Union has, over recent decades, created a huge variety of instruments to promote careers in research and teaching for its citizens that cover all stages, from the early career student to the acclaimed professor. These range from ERASMUS grants for student exchanges to EU research framework programmes (currently Horizon 2020) and the prestigious European Research Council grants. British academics, working in the UK and in other EU countries, have been highly successful in acquiring this European funding in the past. Many, indeed, have built their careers around EU-funded programmes and the collaborative research projects they have enabled. It is essential to them and to future generations of British academics that this principal gateway to an international career is not closed or restricted. As the future relationship between the UK and EU27 is negotiated over the coming months, securing these benefits of research collaboration for the post-Brexit era will be critical for British academics and the UK research community in general.

Beyond specific research and training opportunities, British academics are part of a mobile community who greatly benefit from free movement within the EU. It is essential, therefore, that the UK and EU reach an understanding that maintains the rights that UK citizens in the EU currently enjoy to avoid professional and family disruptions. Although some progress has been made on citizens’ rights, as is documented in the Joint Report of 8 December 2017, there are still several serious concerns that remain unresolved. Moreover, the December 2017 joint understanding will only become valid as part of an overall agreement on Brexit.

British in Europe (BiE) is a coalition of organisations throughout the EU who are campaigning in Brussels and London on behalf of British citizens. In Germany, British in Germany (BiG) is active on behalf of British citizens, both in lobbying at local and national levels and in forming local groups disseminating information on the state of negotiations and on issues such as German citizenship applications. BiG has commented on negotiating rounds relating to citizens’ rights [link] and compiled a detailed response to the Joint Report of December [link]. It has become clear that the implications of Brexit for individuals in terms of freedom of movement and cross-border working depend very much on the time of residence and on employment and family status. A selection of case studies illustrating the complexity of these issues is available here.

British in Germany is interested in reaching as many British citizens as possible to be able to inform you of progress on the issues surrounding citizens’ rights. If you are interested in receiving information on British in Germany activities and on local meetings, please contact with us here. We are interested in hearing your stories, concerns and views so that our approach can evolve appropriately as the negotiations continue. Your information will be passed on to the most relevant British in Germany group representing your interests.

In particular, if you are a British citizen working in a university or other research organisation in Germany, we would very much welcome your opinion on the concerns you have and the assistance you would appreciate relating specifically to the research profession.

We hope to hear from you!






British in Europe survey – registering your residence

This survey, for British in Europe and its member groups, is designed to help us find out more about our members’ experiences of registering residence as a British citizen when first arriving to live in Germany, and also applying for a permanent residence card after 5 years. We’re carrying out similar surveys amongst our members across the EU.

Why are we asking you these questions? The EU 27 countries will shortly be considering how to ‘register’ UK citizens living in the EU after 31 December 2020: to continue the current declaratory system, or to introduce a new constitutive system where we would be required to apply for a new status, in keeping with the UK’s wish to oblige EU27 citizens to apply for ‘settled status’ rather than simply confirm their existing rights. We’d like to know your views and experiences to help our input into the process.

If members of your household or friends have also registered here in Germany, please pass on this link and ask them to complete the survey too

The survey is open until Wednesday, 9 May.

Europäischen Abend at the dbb

Report from Andrew Cox of BiG Berlin

On Monday 23rd April several members of British in Germany attended the 28th Europäischen Abend hosted by the Europa-Union Deutschland e.V. in cooperation with the Deutsch-Britischen Gesellschaft at the dbb Forum on Friedrichstr. in Berlin.

The topic for the evening was “Soft Brexit, Hard Brexit or Brexit-Exit?” and the programme for the event can be downloaded by clicking the icon below:

The evening was divided into two panel discussion:

Where is Great Britain heading?


What will we do without the British?


Before the first discussion the moderator, Tanja Samrotzki noted, to a warm welcome, the birth of William and Kate’s 3rd child, showing how deeply Germany is interested in the affairs of the the UK and the British Royal Family. She also asked that we take part in a poll on the likely outcome of Brexit, e.g. Hard, Soft or No-Brexit. The Soft option received most votes, followed by Hard and then No-Brexit.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t actually explained what hard or soft Brexit actually meant. 

Panel Discussion One – Where is Great Britain heading?

The first panel discussion involved two representatives: Prof. Dr Katrin Kohl and Sir Graham Watson.

During the exchanges Katrin Kohl noted that she doubted there would be an Exit from Brexit, while also noting that facts appeared to have been shut out of the debate. There was a tendency in the UK to blame the EU while the UK population itself was already showing signs of being bored with the Brexit debate. She did not see much chance of a 2nd Referendum and while there had been numerous protests and marches in the UK against Brexit it still appeared that Brexit was a “white middle class problem” without deeper resonance in the country. With regard to the Windrush revelations she commented that Theresa May was appearing to be “a PM without a heart”.

Sir Graham was equally skeptical about an Exit from Brexit but felt that the situation in the UK was akin to “boiling frogs”, i.e. if the economic situation only gradually gets worse, as seems likely, there will be no mass protest against it although significant damage to the UK could result. He felt that neither Theresa May nor Jeremy Corbyn felt themselves to be European and therefore lacked the passion to campaign a pro-EU position. He felt that it was likely that the UK would need at least 10 years outside the EU until the benefits of EU membership became apparent. He did, however, feel that Germany would be best not to say anything regarding Brexit as this was always negatively reported in the UK press.

Panel Discussion Two – What will we do without the British?

The second panel discussion involved Dr Katarina Barley MdB, Dr Klaus Günter Deutsch, Thomas Hacker MdB and Dr Rupert Graf Strachwitz.

While the discussion moved back and forth, the following comments were noteworthy:

Katarina Barley felt that the potential for chaos after Brexit remained high and with the lack of a plan from the UK it was difficult for the EU to respond. With the clock ticking there remained a huge amount to be addressed. She was also alarmed to find that a comment of hers that maybe the UK should hold a 2nd Referendum had been reported in the UK as “German MP demands UK holds 2nd Referendum”. So she is now very guarded about saying anything.

Klaus Günter Deutsch felt the issue of Free Movement of Workers needed addressing urgently and pointed out the huge investments that German companies had made in the UK, and vice versa to a lesser extent, and wondered how these investment could be protected if it was not possible to send German workers to the UK. Trade flows were naturally vital, but as yet there was no clear vision on how this would work, with the UK appearing to have ruled out each model leaving only the most basic Free Trade Agreement. The UK was a vital Research Partner to Germany with many UK Universities leading the way and he hoped that a system allowing Free Movement and cooperation on Research could be agreed. He felt that the UK might find the rest of the world a more hostile environment than thought and wondered if President Trump would actually turn out to be a good friend to British with his “America First” rhetoric.

Thomas Hacker contributed least but shared Katarina Barley’s frustration, wondering what it was the UK Government wanted from a future relationship with the EU and Germany.

Dr Rupert Graf Strachwitz noted that English might no longer be an official language of the EU, which is questionable as it will remain a working language for most of the small EU nations and was already the working language before the UK joined. He noted how at several European events he had attended, the British delegation were going round from country to country trying to split the EU, while the EU27 remained committed to one common position. He felt that with time running out, it might be for the EU to state how it saw the future relationship with the UK rather than waiting for the UK to state its position and react to this. He regretted that after Brexit the countries least favourable to free-trade would achieve a blocking minority in the EU, something which Germany and Britain together had previously been able to out-vote. He also noted the UK’s important role as the “door” to the Anglo-Saxon world and the ability of the UK to facilitate relations with Australia, New Zealand and Canada. The current position of the USA Administration meant that the USA had also lost its position as a “door”.

Closing words

Rainer Wieland MdEP closed the evening by giving his thoughts. He felt that in the end the UK might return to the EU, “but the way back will be difficult. Probably not paid for in pounds, measured in inches nor driven on the left-hand side”, to much laughter.

In Conclusion

While the discussions were interesting, I felt, as a member of the audience, that neither had actually been able to answer the question as stated. The major obstacle is that, with barely a few months to go, the plan of the UK Government remains as vague as ever. While the stated positions are “no” to the Single Market and “no” to a Customs Union, these are to be seen in terms of a “Deep and Special” relationship and a “Customs Arrangement”, i.e. all the benefits of both without a commitment to them.  And i think it’s fair to say that such a position remains for many an unachievable aspiration.

Freedom of Movement survey

British in Europe is carrying out a survey of its coalition members and individual supporters to gauge support for a last big push on free movement.  We know that there is a good deal of support for this in British in Germany, but want to get feedback from all our members. Please take a minute to help by filling out the survey and distributing the link:  

Update: This survey is now closed. Thank-you to those that participated.