Category Archives: UK/Parliament

What does election result mean for UK citizens in Germany?

The likely timetable

Firstly, given the large Tory majority, it is very likely that the October version of the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) will be passed by the UK parliament in January, or possibly even sooner. It then has to be ratified by the European Parliament, but it’s now pretty much a given that the UK will leave the EU on 31st January 2020 and that the WA will come into force then. The WA foresees a transition period that will run from 1st February 2020 until 31st December 2020. It also contains an article (Article 132) which would allow an extension of 1 or 2 years – if that is requested by July 2020.

Citizens’ rights and the WA

The citizens’ rights section of the WA remains almost entirely unchanged from the original version agreed by Theresa May a year ago, and it is this part of the Agreement that will cover the future legal rights of British people who are legally resident in an EU27 country on the last day of the transition period. (however long that turns out to be) The Agreement is EU wide and, although each EU27 country will institute its own procedures for things like residence cards etc, each individual EU country must respect the WA’s set out provisions.

Under the WA, most of our rights remain wholly unchanged until the end of the transition period, so at least until 31st December, 2020. This includes freedom of movement meaning it will still be possible for people to move freely from the UK to the EU, or within the EU during that period. We do however lose the right to stand and vote in local and European elections from Brexit day, i.e. as of 1st February 2020.

**What’s important to note is that once the Withdrawal Agreement is in force, we will be covered by it for our lifetimes whatever happens with future negotiations.  So please don’t think that the rights the WA provides for us are temporary – they are not; if you are legally resident in an EU country at the end of the transition period these rights will cover you for your lifetime.

Specific rights included in the WA

Crucially, the WA ensures not only the right to live and work in the country of residence at the end of the transition period, but also covers areas such as S1 healthcare rights, together with aggregation and uprating of pensions.   The WA agreement also says we will be able to leave our host country for up to 5 years without losing our right to return.

The WA does not cover everything, however.  If you want a quick overview on exactly what it does and doesn’t cover, have a look at this article that Kalba Meadows wrote recently for France Rights – it’s equally applicable to us in Germany.

Dual citizenship in Germany

For those of us in Germany who meet the conditions to apply for German citizenship during the transition period i.e. up to 31st December 2020, there is an additional benefit. The German government passed a law which entitles us, if we meet the conditions and apply for German citizenship during that time, to keep our UK citizenship as well.  This is normally only an option for EU citizens.

And finally, for the avoidance of any doubt or confusion here’s 3 important points:

  1. The media doesn’t always help by using interchangeable terms for things that are quite separate. For example there is often reference made to a ‘deal’ to refer to the trade deal that has to be struck during the transition period, and the terms ‘no deal’ and ‘crashing out’ to a situation where no trade deal can be agreed. Confusingly, these are the very same terms that the media have previously used to denote the UK leaving without a Withdrawal Agreement, but the meaning is very different. Once the Withdrawal Agreement becomes law – expected on 31 January 2020 – then our future rights contained within it are guaranteed whatever happens with the future trade deal. So a failure to conclude a trade deal might be a ‘no deal’ situation for the UK, but not for British citizens living in the EU. This is important to be clear about and at the moment is the subject of much confusion and concern.
  2. Johnson is bringing to Parliament the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill, and intends to use his majority to pass that Bill at second reading before the Christmas recess. In this Bill, he intends to insert a clause barring any extension to the Withdrawal Agreement’s transition period beyond 31st December 2020. BUT this Bill is NOT the same thing as the Withdrawal Agreement itself which has already been approved by the European Council and cannot now be amended without further negotiation (which is very unlikely to happen). The WA contains an article (Article 132) allowing an extension of 1 or 2 years to the transition period if it’s requested by July 2020. Clause 132 will remain in the WA even if Johnson’s bill passes with his proposed amendment barring an extension, which means that the UK government could agree to extend the transition period at any point up to July 2020 by passing a new bit of legislation.
  3. Once the WA becomes law, the ‘no deal’ legislation already passed in each of the EU27 countries becomes defunct, and we then have to wait for each country to publish details of how it intends to implement the WA for its British residents.

Further information sources:

  • If you are a member of the British in Europe Facebook Group, Kalba Meadows also posted information there on 14th December. She and Zoe Adams Green have also answered a number of questions there and you may find helpful. https://www.facebook.com/groups/britishineurope/

Become a member of British in Germany e.V. here for only 15 Euros a year to support BiG’s advocacy and campaigning work and  to get the latest up to date information on how Brexit will impact the lives of UK citizens living in Germany

Overseas voters: register now!

Regarding the General Election on December 12th:

The British in Europe Coalition has just re-released its Register to Vote website, which contains all the information British citizens living abroad need on overseas voting. All Brits living out of the UK for under 15 years, who have been registered in the last 15 years, are entitled to vote! We are recommending a proxy vote as the most reliable way to get your voice heard. The deadline for applications is in just over a week, on November 26th.

Don’t miss out, register to vote now!

Lots of activity in the UK Parliament

It has been an exhausting few weeks and it has been very difficult to know what we should report here as it has changed from hour to hour.

Today, Wednesday 27 March, the UK Parliament will be going rogue and having taken control of the Order Paper will be debating and conducting indicative votes on a set of proposals in an attempt to unblock the Brexit logjam.

We do not know which options the Speaker will select but they are likely to range from No-Deal to Revoke Article 50 and every possible option in between.

Which brings us to the second item. The Petition to Revoke Article 50. Created by Margaret Georgiadou, 77, she can hardly have believed the attention the Petition would receive.

Although revoking Article 50 is an improbable outcome it is still important to sign it in order to put pressure on MPs to consider other relationships the UK could have with the EU in the event that the UK does leave.

At the time of writing the Petition stands at over 5,800,000. Click on the image to add your vote! Remember you can vote if you are a UK National even if you are living abroad or a foreign National living in the UK.

If you are still hungry to sign more petitions then consider the one to allow all British citizens to vote should there be a new referendum on Brexit.

Sadly the Private Member’s Bill to implement Votes for Life was “talked out” – as often occurs to bills not part of the Government programme. The petition requests that in the event of a new referendum British citizens living abroad are not excluded from voting on a matter that greatly affects their lives as happened in 2016. Again click the image to be taken to the petitions website.

 

Report on the Costa Amendment


Last week saw an important vote with respect to UK Citizens’ Rights and EU Citizens’ Rights in the UK in the event of No-Deal.

An amendment put forward by MP Alberta Costa, despite his action costing him his post in the Government and being initially opposed by the Government, was passed without a vote after the Government changed its position.

However the vote is not binding on the UK Government and also requires the cooperation of the EU and so the work continues.

Alberta Costa has already written to Donald Tusk, the head of the Council of Europe representing the 28 EU States, seeking a meeting to discuss the issue and needs the Council to instruct the Commission to negotiate this “mini-Deal” in the event of a No-Deal situation.

However we, in the form of British in Europe, will also be there, adding our weight to the argument. This is costly work in terms of time and travel and therefore we are asking you to support British in Europe by making a donation to them via their website. While we, as British in Germany, are also seeking support from the German Government, the work in Brussels and the UK is also vitally important.

The original reporting follows:

As reported on the British in Europe website, the Conservative MP Alberto Costa, is proposing an amendment to the motion being voted on in the House of Commons next Wednesday 27th Feb. The amendment calls for the Prime Minister to ask the EU to jointly agree *as soon as possible* to adopt the citizens’ rights part of the Withdrawal Agreement – whatever happens with Brexit.

Please follow the British in Europe link and read about this important development and write to your UK MP in support of it.

Meeting with the Exiting the European Union Committee in London

Today, 6th June, Nicholas Hatton, Co-chair, the3million, Anne Laure Donskoy, Co-chair, the3million, and Barbara Drozdowicz, Chief Executive Officer, East European Resource Centre; Fiona Godfrey, Chair, British Immigrants living in Luxembourg (BRILL), and Deputy Chair of British in Europe, Jane Golding, Co-Chair, British in Germany, and Chair of British in Europe, Michael Harris, Chair, EuroCitizens, Spain, and Kalba Meadows, Founder, Remain in France Together (RIFT), France all met with and provided evidence to the Exiting the European Union Committee in London.

The meeting was divided into two sessions, one covering the situation of EU Citizens in the UK and the second covering that of UK Citizens in the EU.

The event was recorded and is available on Parliament Live TV, with the second session starting at 10:29:00.

‘No Deal’ of Theresa May’s interview on LBC

Extract of Theresa May’s interview on LBC, on Tuesday 10 October – “No Deal”

Alison Jones was lined up to ask the following question of Theresa May live on this radio phone-in:
“What would ‘no deal’ mean for myself and the other 1.2 million UK citizens currently living in the EU27?”
In the end the presenter asked the question instead, but it elicited a response from Ms May that hit the headlines the following day: 
“We don’t know what would happen to them, the EU member states would have to consider what their approach would be to those UK citizens …”

Written Evidence to HoL. Committee

Following Jane Golding’s oral evidence to the House of Lords EU  committee, follow-up evidence on the effect of No Deal has been submitted to the inquiry.

Read in full the  House of Lords Written Evidence

CONCLUSIONS

25. Given all the above, in our view, there is no clear and comprehensive legal solution to the issues faced by British citizens residing in the EU or EU citizens in the UK without a deal between the EU and the UK, agreeing the principles on which the exiting rights of these citizens should be safeguarded, and setting out the detail in the Withdrawal Agreement.

26. Any default position under a mixture of EU, national, European (European Convention on Human Rights) and international law would be an imperfect and patchwork solution and lead to years of
practical problems for more than 4.2 million British citizens in the EU and EU citizens in the UK who moved pre-Brexit to other EU countries in good faith and with the legitimate expectation that their EU citizenship rights were irrevocable.

27. Moreover, such a solution would also be impractical and create difficulties for both the UK and other EU countries as regards its implementation, entailing an unsatisfactory piecemeal approach to the position of former EU citizens already resident, sometimes far longer than five years, in their countries.

28. It is the current intention of the EU and the UK at this stage in the negotiations to set out in detail any deal that they reach as regards safeguarding citizens’ rights in the Withdrawal Agreement, thus giving these provisions treaty status and force of international law. However, the negotiators need to go further and definitively agree that the provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement would have direct effect in national law, and also agree which international dispute resolution body will have jurisdiction as regards these rights. This could of course be the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU), given that the rights in question derive from EU law, and to ensure consistency of interpretation of the rights of both groups of citizens in the UK and EU 27 going forward. In the event that it is not the CJEU, a body fulfilling the same conditions should be chosen.

29. “No Deal” is an ambiguous term in connection with citizens’ rights. It could mean that the UK and the EU are unable to agree on anything, or it could mean that, whilst they are agreed on citizens’ rights, they have failed to reach agreement on other matters and conclude that there is “no deal”. It is essential to ensure that, provided there is an agreement at least on citizens’ rights, we are not in a no deal situation. The UK and EU can do this by ensuring that any agreement on citizens’ rights is ring-fenced from the rest of the negotiations. Currently, in order to reach sufficient progress in the negotiations, the three priority areas in the negotiations are
being linked. This means that matters and compromises that have direct repercussions for the
lives of real people are being mixed up with the discussions as regards the financial settlement and the Irish border. There is no way of avoiding the conclusion that citizens and their rights are
being used as bargaining chips in these negotiations. Unless and until citizens’ rights are ringfenced from the rest of the negotiations, this position will not change.

30. There is also the concern that citizens’ rights may be the only area in which it may be possible to reach sufficient progress by December, the date of the next European Council meeting. In that
case, it may be that the negotiators will seek to make compromises that will limit the extent to which existing rights are guaranteed. Conversely, it may simply mean that the bar is lowered and that, even if fundamental issues concerning citizens’ rights still remain to be agreed, the UK and EU will conclude that “sufficient progress” on citizens’ rights has nonetheless been reached. It would be fundamentally unjust for the 4-5 million people who have relied in good faith on their rights with the legitimate expectation that they were irrevocable if any such compromises were to be made.

31. In conclusion and given what is set out above, on citizens’ rights, the repercussions of a no deal are serious – and exclusively negative for the lives of between 4-5 million people who have moved across the Channel in reliance of their existing rights as EU citizens.