The British Ambassador Sir Simon Wood met with concerned British citizens in Berlin at the British Embassy on 13th February 2018 to talk about the latest news on Brexit and freedom of movement, after the agreements of December 2017. Here’s what we found out:
- British citizens resident in Germany before Brexit will still have access to reciprocal health care (EHIC, reimbursement arrangements, etc), pension payments and other state-funded benefits (e.g. child benefits).
- British citizens who have been living in Germany for more than 5 years will be granted permanent residence. Brits registered as living in Germany before March 2019 will be able to stay and can then apply for permanent residence once they have reached the 5-year mark.
- Permanent residency is not freedom of movement. It only applies to the Federal Republic of Germany and can lapse if you leave Germany and deregister. Then, if you return, you might have to start from scratch with a regular residence permit and wait 5 or 8 years before achieving permanent residency.
- Frontier workers have protected rights as long as they continue to be frontier workers, if they were working across borders before Brexit.
- Family reunification (parents, partners, children) is possible up until Brexit, even if the children are born after Brexit. Partners are defined as being “in a durable relationship” and must have commenced their relationship before Brexit.
- Those wishing to apply for German citizenship will be able to do so after being in Germany for 8 years and holding permanent residency.
- British citizens who have already fulfilled this 8-year term and wish to have German citizenship are encouraged to apply for it ASAP. If the citizenship application is approved while Britain is still an EU member state, dual citizenship is not an issue. After this, it is not clear whether dual nationality will be tolerated or not.
- Reciprocal agreements in education (e.g. ERASMUS) should continue.
- The embassy expects further clarification before October 2018 – all decisions have to have been made by then so that the agreement can be ratified in time for Brexit in March 2019.
- The Berlin senate representative assured British citizens that they are “all Berliners” in the eyes of the Senate. Well, ain’t that nice!
If you want some help putting together your citizenship application, get in touch!
Andreas Moser says
For citizenship, the required residence period is shortened to 7 years if the applicant has passed the integration course and has a certificate for German at the B1 level.
If the applicant is at B2 level, 6 years of residence in Germany are sufficient.
Spouses of German citizens only need to have lived in Germany for 3 years.
As to dual citizenship, the relevant date is not the date of the application, but that of the decision. Thus, people have even less time. Under current law, dual citizenship would only be possible in exceptional circumstances after March 2019. To change this is exclusively up to Germany, not the Brexit negotiations because citizenship law is not EU law.
Overall, I have the feeling as if the British Ambassador is a bit too optimistic, which admittedly means that he is a true representative of Her Majesty’s Government.
The interim agreement (which still has a lot of gaps) announced recently is subject to an exit agreement, for which almost nothing has been agreed. Even worse than disagreement on the issues, the UK’s position seems to be that some serious issues (like the Irish border or continuing ECJ jurisdiction) are no issues at all, making it very unlikely that an agreement can be reached. It’s very hard to negotiate seriously with someone who dismisses most problems with “ahh, that will work out somehow”.
Continued membership in ERASMUS would depend on the UK’s continued financial contribution, for example. The mere wish to remain a member is not sufficient.
And let’s not forget that there are countries which will benefit from the UK leaving the single market and which are therefore not too inclined to negotiate some sweet deal. Any of these countries can block a final deal, and we’ll have a hard-Brexit catastrophe in March 2019. Maybe Spain does it over Gibraltar, maybe Malta in hope of receiving more English language students, maybe Hungary just for fun or Greece because it gets a Russian loan to do so. The odds are highly stacked against an agreement.
Kathleen Parker says
Thanks for the update, Andreas!