‘You remain a very high priority’: a letter to Brits from the UK ambassador

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‘You remain a very high priority’: a letter to Brits from the UK ambassador
Photo: DPA

British ambassador Sir Sebastian Wood writes to The Local, explaining to British citizens in Germany what's been achieved so far on their post-Brexit rights - and what still hasn’t been decided.


Dear British citizen in Germany,

Over the last few months I have met many UK nationals here in Germany to discuss what the UK’s departure from the European Union means for you. I’m now writing to set out where we are in the negotiations with the EU27 and how you can best stay informed.

I know that the EU Referendum decision has caused considerable uncertainty, and in many cases disappointment. I would like to reassure you that it has been a high priority for the British Government to ensure that both British citizens in the EU and EU citizens in the UK can continue to live their lives as they have so far.

Indeed, from the very beginning of this process, the Prime Minister has been clear that safeguarding the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and UK nationals living in the EU was her first priority for the negotiations. It was the first topic we discussed and the two sides reached agreements in December 2017 and March 2018, as set out in the UK-EU Joint Report and the draft Withdrawal Agreement text.

In March, we also agreed the terms of a time-limited implementation period until December 31st, 2020. During the implementation period, you will continue to be able to travel, work and live freely in any member state. Any British national who moves to Germany before December 31st, 2020 will be protected by the Withdrawal Agreement.

So what is in the draft agreement? Essentially, that your rights and those of your family members to continue to live and work in Germany will be protected, as will be your rights to social security, including pensions and healthcare.

In detail, we have agreed the following:

Britons who have been in Germany for five years by December 31st, 2020 will be granted permanent residence. Citizens only lose this status if they leave Germany for more than five years. Those who have not completed five years here by December 2020 will have the right to continue to stay and transform their status into permanent residence by the time the five years are completed.

If you are covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, you will have the right to bring your family members to Germany for the duration of your life. This applies to children and grandchildren, including those born after exit day, partners, where the relationship existed before 31 December 2020, as well as dependent parents and grandparents.

Sebastian Wood. Photo: DPA

Lifetime export of state pensions will continue, and pensions will continue to be uprated as they are now. Aggregation rules for pension contributions prior to the end of the implementation period will also be maintained. These will remain in place for the lifetime of all those who have contributed to pension schemes in an EU country other than that of their residence at any point in the past, irrespective of where you live.

Current healthcare arrangements will continue for those UK nationals who live in Germany by December 31st, 2020. This applies to all types of reciprocal healthcare, including the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), planned treatments (S2 route) and health care reimbursement arrangements for pensioners (S1 route).

The continued mutual recognition of professional qualifications has been confirmed for cases where recognition decisions have been received or where recognition procedures are ongoing on 31st December 2020. This applies to the European Professional Card, qualifications recognised under the MRPQ directive, lawyers practising under host State title, approved statutory auditors, and persons engaged in the trade and distribution of toxic products. You will also keep your right to run or establish a business in Germany.

There are a number of outstanding issues on which we could not yet reach an agreement. These include the right to continue to live and work in all 27 EU countries, rather than only your country of residence after the end of the implementation period, the mutual recognition of qualifications not mentioned above, and the rules for posting of workers. We recognize the great importance of these issues to many UK citizens in the EU and will continue to raise these in the negotiations on our future partnership with the EU. 

It will be up to Germany to decide which administrative processes UK nationals in Germany might have to follow in order to confirm their status. I and my team here at the British Embassy in Berlin have been in regular contact with the German government on these issues and will provide further updates as and when information becomes available. You will have until June 2021 to comply with any new procedures which might be put in place.

Meanwhile, if you have not done so already, I’d encourage you to register as living here with the German authorities.

Notwithstanding all of the progress so far in the negotiations, there have of course been some public comments from both sides about the need to prepare for all scenarios, and I know that many of you will be worried about the risk that the two sides are unable to reach an overall agreement. But you should be in no doubt that the interests of citizens (UK citizens in the EU27 and EU citizens in the UK) will remain under all circumstances a very high priority for the UK Government. And, in the event that the two sides are unable to reach agreement on an overall deal, the EU side too would have very strong reasons for wishing to implement what has been agreed on citizens’ rights.

Finally, I should mention that the UK government last week published further information about settled status, which will ensure that EU citizens can stay in the UK lawfully.

To keep you in touch, we will continue to update you through our social media channels, as well as information events across Germany. Throughout the summer you have the opportunity to attend events in Nürnberg (18 July), Stuttgart (25 July) and Berlin (date TBC). Future events will be announced here.

You might also want to check this website with essential information for UK nationals in the EU, which will continue to be updated regularly.


HMA Sebastian Wood


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