• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Berlin Brits share fears and beers over Europe vote
"There's only one thing for it: we'll have to drink beer and have an argument in the pub". Photos: DPA

Berlin Brits share fears and beers over Europe vote

Tom Barfield · 25 Feb 2016, 10:32

Published: 25 Feb 2016 10:32 GMT+01:00

A panel of speakers, including EU blogger Jon Worth, Berlin correspondent for The Guardian Philip Oltermann, and writer and translator Brian Melican took the stage to explain just what to expect in the coming months.

With around 100 people gathered in a pub basement over beers, the numbers present were a small fraction of the roughly 107,000 of Her Majesty's subjects living in Germany.

The latest official figures report roughly 5,600 Brits living in Berlin – although the real number is likely higher as some British migrants do not bother with German registration procedures.

“This is an important issue for the individuals,” Jon Worth told the crowd. “What does it mean for us [if Britain votes to leave the European Union]?

“Do you [in Berlin] want to persuade friends back home to vote one way or another? Or is it about getting German citizenship as your alternative – maybe Berlin matters more to you than returning back to the UK?”

Four months to decide

With a referendum now set for June 23, there are four months for the “Leave” and “Remain” camps back home to make their cases.

And the battle lines are already drawn, Guardian journalist Oltermann explained, with Outers convinced that a deal struck by David Cameron at marathon negotiations two weeks ago is meaningless, while In campaigners say it fundamentally changes Britain's status in the Union.

Roughly 40 percent are firmly for each side and the remainder undecided, leaving the race just as close as the vote on Scottish independence in 2014.

Graphic: Financial Times

That's why Brian Melican - who recently obtained German citizenship - was on hand to walk other potential Germans through the process.

“I'm not much of a risk-taker – I live in Germany,” Melican told the crowd to a burst of laughter.

“Germans like to know what's going to happen in the future and I'm very German in that regard, so when this whole thing kicked off – for me the Conservative government being voted in meant that on the horizon there was a possibility Britain might not be in the EU.”

Berlin Brits fear for future

Many of the people in the audience told The Local that they were concerned about what Brexit might mean for them.

“I'm increasingly anxious,” Mancunian journalist Sophie Atkinson, 27, said. “I wanted to see in the worst-case scenario what my options are,” such as taking German citizenship.

“I worry that Britain will leave,” said Emily Wright, a 32-year-old student from Birmingham.

“I thought initially it's quite good that we're having the debate, because it's been festering so long. It would be great if we resoundingly voted to stay in, but that's clearly not going to be the case.”

“Having not just lived in Germany but also for a while in Spain and in Poland, there are so many benefits of being in the EU,” said Bedford native Melissa James, 25.

“Personally I've benefited and I don't really see the disadvantages.”

Becoming German

Plenty of people present were readying themselves to follow Melican's route of taking German citizenship.

That's an option for those who've lived in Germany for more than eight years – or more than six if they can demonstrate “special integration achievements”, like mastering the German language or doing voluntary work.

Those who have married a German citizen only need to demonstrate that they've lived in the country for three years.

“I've lived here for seven and a half years, so I'm quite far along for the citizenship application. I'd like the security,” said translator Ian Farrell, 29.

“No-one knows what's going to happen with the EU if we vote to leave, and I don't trust the British public to understand the situation properly – everyone just follows the media frenzy.”

Please don't go

The Local asked all our interviewees what their message would be for people back home.

“I wouldn't like to tell anybody how to vote. Try looking beyond what the mainstream media is telling you, try looking at what the EU actually does – the UK media just reports the negative,” translator Farrell said.

“We are quite grateful for the position we're in as British citizens and citizens of Europe,” said Rohit Kakar, 27, a human resources controller at German energy giant Eon.

“[Leaving] would be a selfish decision by the UK, there are plenty more problems out there.”

Story continues below…

“Europe isn't perfect, it has a lot of issues and it's going through a difficult time right now,” Emily Wright said.

“But we have to look at the long-term perspective. There are so many issues these days – the environment, climate change, immigration – maybe geographically Britain is an island but politically it's not.

“It's better to be in the EU, to co-operate with our neighbours and find common solutions that benefit everyone.”

SEE ALSO: 'It is a fair deal': Merkel defends EU-British accord

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Tom Barfield (tom.barfield@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Dresden 'most woman-friendly’ city in Germany
Photo: DPA.

Sorry Berlin, you're not the most progressive city for women, according to a new report.

The future belongs to these 10 German regions
This east German city won the 'most improved' category. Photo: DPA

A new study shows that one city above all will dominate the future of Germany, but if you're canny you might still want to think about moving to Leipzig or Erfurt.

Fugitive ex-terrorists 'on huge crime spree' in north Germany
(L-r): ex-RAF members Volker Staub, Daniela Klette, and Burkhard Garweg. Photo: BKA

In their struggle against capitalism they once murdered businessmen and politicians. Now three ex-terrorists have taken to robbing supermarkets - and rather successfully, too.

Scooter singer finally reveals how much the fish cost
H.P. Baxxter. Photo: DPA

It is the question Germans have wanted to know the answer to for almost two decades - and now they have the answer, thanks to a US talkshow host.

'I'm definitely not a paedophile': disgraced MP
Former MP Sebastian Edathy is in hiding after a child pornography scandal destroyed his career. Photo: DPA

Former MP Sebastian Edathy quit his job and left Germany after videos of naked children were found on his computer.

Weekend promises storms, humidity - and a bit of sun
A storm in Cuxhaven last weekend. Photo: DPA

The forecast for the coming days isn’t the pristine blue skies many of us are longing for. But, in among the storms, the sun will still peek out.

Prosecutors take aim at unedited Hitler book
An original edition of 'Mein Kampf' featuring a photo of Hitler on an inside cover. Photo: DPA

German prosecutors said on Thursday they were investigating whether to bring charges against a publisher who has promised to print a version of Adolf Hitler's anti-Semitic manifesto "Mein Kampf" without annotations.

VW bets on battery factory for electric car dominance
A VW logo is seen in front of a plugged-in electric car. Photo: DPA

Scandal-hit car giant Volkswagen is set to sink huge sums into building a factory for batteries to power its future electric cars, German media reported on Friday.

Raging ticket controller seizes Chinese traveler's passport
File photo of a plainclothes ticket controller. Photo: DPA.

Germany's national rail operator is in hot water after a ticket controller reacted aggressively to a newly arrived Chinese traveler who made one of the most basic transit mistakes: forgetting to stamp her ticket.

Berlin politician crusades for health of skateboarding dog
File photo: DPA

Can a canine enjoy skateboarding? That's the question Berlin politicians are struggling to address in a row over a dog on four wheels.

Sponsored Article
Eat, learn, live: unforgettable holidays in France
Society
Pegida enraged by black children on chocolate bars
Health
New father's tragic herpes warning touches 1000s online
National
Monsanto takeover would be 'diabolical': environmentalists
Lifestyle
10 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
Politics
MP recites explicit Erdogan bestiality poem on live TV
National
China beats Germany in readiness to help refugees
Hamburg
Headless Lübeck corpse turns out to be discarded sex doll
National
Pensioner claims to have found hidden Nazi nukes
Business & Money
Here's why Munich is worth 20 times more than Berlin
Culture
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
Lifestyle
6 things about Munich that will stay with you forever
Technology
Church plans to connect with faithful at Wi-Fi 'Godspots'
Technology
Online hate speech can cost users thousands of Euros
Society
Bavarians in rush for non-lethal weapons licenses
Sport
Here's Germany's Mannschaft for Euro 2016
Culture
The Syrian pianist playing his way into Germans' hearts
The parrot who flew fast enough to trigger a speed camera
Technology
New law could let free Wi-Fi bloom across Germany
Politics
Berlin's plans to beef up the German army
Sport
Lufthansa's Euro 2016 ad takes aim at England
National
Supermarkets must pay massive fine for fixing beer prices
National
4/20: Five things to know about weed in Germany
Berlin
Police break up hipster swarm at vegan restaurant opening
7,862
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd