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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.

Join us and become a Member today

Last night we contacted all our supporters to encourage them to join and become Members. This drive will help British in Germany increase its funds to continue the work we are doing supporting UK Citizens living in Germany.

A copy of the letter is shown below.

June 2018

 Dear Sir/Madam,

 We’re getting in touch because you have been interested/active in supporting the work of British in Germany.

 As some of you will appreciate, the next few months of the Brexit negotiations to October 2018 are critical in determining our future rights as UK citizens living in Germany.  Unfortunately, at present, there are many rights including free movement and how we secure our rights here that still hang in the balance.

 So, we want to pull out all the stops in the coming few months to make sure we’ve done all we can to protect our future rights as UK citizens living and working in Germany.

 Last week for example we started filming a free movement video campaign that British in Germany is leading on for the British in Europe coalition. The videos, through interviews with people who use free movement in their daily lives, make the positive case for UK citizens in the EU keeping free movement, which at present is not included in the draft Withdrawal Agreement despite being critical for the lives and livelihoods of many members.  Jane Golding, Chair of British in Germany and British in Europe has been in Brussels and London this week, first as part of the joint BiE/the3million lobby  meeting Michel Barnier’s team, the EU Council and MEPs including Guy Verhofstadt in Brussels, and then giving oral evidence to the House of Commons Exiting the EU Committee with three other BiE members from Luxembourg, Spain and France.  You can view the hearing here.  This is just a small example of the many actions BiG and BiE are involved in to try and secure our citizenship rights.

 As you may know, British in Germany is now registered to become an einvertragener Verein. This allows us to collect funds to increase the scope and impact of our campaigning.  Just as an example, the filming last week cost around 400 Euros just in expenses and equipment and that’s with everyone involved giving their time for free. We want to continue the ‘InfoAbends’ around the country with two successful startup meetings in Leipzig and Hannover and another successful Munich Beer Garden event just in the last couple of weeks. BiG groups are now well established in Frankfurt, Berlin, Munich, Stuttgart, Cologne, Paderborn, Hamburg and Nürnberg. A BiG priority is to increase our lobbying of German national, federal and local government who will be making decisions about our future status here in Germany.  While everyone in British in Germany gives their time for free at present, there are clearly expenses incurred with this work which we think is only right to reimburse. We would also consider, if funds permit, to open a small office. 

 So we’re writing to you to ask if you’d be willing to join British in Germany with a small membership fee of 15 Euros a year, plus any additional donation you would be able to make. You can do that here and you can prevent any commission being paid on Paypal donations by doing a bank transfer. As a member you will receive regular updates from us about events around the country, a newsletter and will be able to participate and vote in the annual general meeting.

 Many of the campaigns we are involved in stem from the EU-wide campaigns, legal and advocacy work of British in Europe, so it’s important to note that while people like Jane Golding are Chair of both British in Germany and British in Europe and therefore we can cover some of Jane’s travel expenses, British in Germany cannot legally share its funds easily with British in Europe.  So that means if you wish to donate to the advocacy work at UK, EU and EU 27 level of the wider coalition British in Europe you can do so here:

 Any further questions, don’t hesitate to drop me a line.  I am the volunteer Praktikantin for BiG until the end of August.  And just a heads up on a couple of events coming up: BiG will be marching with BiE on 23rd June in London and in Berlin and we’d love as many to join as possible.  Here’s more info on those two events: In London.   In Berlin.

 With your help, we can significantly up our efforts to do our utmost to secure the citizen rights we assumed would be life long when we all moved to other EU countries.

 Mit freundlichen Grüßen

 Emma Corris (Volunteer/Praktikantin for British in Germany)  info@britishingermany.org

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.

British in Europe on flagship BBC radio programme

Fiona Godfrey, one of the deputy chairs of British in Europe and chair of British Immigrants Living in Luxembourg, spoke today with Reality Check Correspondent Chris Morris on the BBC Radio 4’s flagship morning news programme “Today”.

Fiona explains how the current situation for working Brits in the EU remains extremely unclear. While it is expected that those currently living in an EU Member State will retain their right to work in the Member State of their residence, those who work cross-border, either physically or virtually, will lose that right unless something new is negotiated.

While Fiona is a Luxembourg resident and in such a small country almost inevitably has to work cross-border, Helen lives in the much larger country of France, and yet still needs to seek cross-border work, in this case during the off-season at her ski chalet.

Both are currently seeking dual nationality in their respective countries, an option which is open to Brits in Germany who have the necessary years of residency here, but is only guaranteed until the Brexit date–29 March 2019–after which they may fall foul of Germany’s Single Nationality rule.

Their interview can be best heard on the BBC’s Full Facts website.

Or here on the Today Programme at 44:38 minutes in.

For those who choose to give up their UK citizenship in order to gain a German one post Brexit, the UK government has once more shown how it is wants to help, by hiking the fees.

However, not only Brits already in Europe are going to face difficulties. There are also Brits in the UK who also need to travel to Europe to work, if not necessary live. The BBC Today programme yesterday featured an orchestra in the UK who are now concerned about their ability to easily travel to the EU to perform. The report can be found at 1:43:00 in on this broadcast.

And finally in what was a busy week for UK Citizens in the EU on Radio 4, this final report discusses the position of UK citizens in Spain (and by extension in Germany) with regard to their Registration (Anmeldung in Germany) and continuing Freedom of Movement, etc. The report can be found at 42:00 in on this broadcast.

To show how difficult Citizen’s Rights are, Europe Street News has helpfully produced the following summary chart.