‘Hiding under the duvet with a bottle of wine’: How Brits in Germany will mark Brexit day

On Friday the UK is set to leave the EU as Brexit finally happens. We asked how Britons will mark the occasion – if at all.

'Hiding under the duvet with a bottle of wine': How Brits in Germany will mark Brexit day
The end of an era for the UK. Photo: DPA

Hiding under the duvet, heading to the pub or taking part in a demonstration – these are just some of the things Brits in Germany are planning when the UK officially leaves the EU at midnight on January 31st.

Megan Bray, 27, who's originally from Margate in England, is helping to organize a protest called 'leaving reluctantly' near the British Embassy in Berlin.

“We just wanted to give people the opportunity to express their grief,” Bray told The Local. “Some people are going to be wearing blue for the EU, others might be wearing black.”

Bray said it would give people a chance to come together.

“It's such a loss of opportunity and identity for so many people,” she added.

The protest takes place outside Hotel Adlon near the Brandenburg Gate from 4-7pm on Friday.

Bray, who moved to Berlin last March, added: “I think it is worrying, there's a lot of uncertainty. I feel very hopeful that I'll be able to stay in Germany but I think the loss of freedom of movement is really sad and limits everyone.”

In Osnabrück, a pro-European rally is taking place at 5pm at Rathausplatz, organized by Pulse for Europe.

And British in Germany is hosting a meetup at The Castle bar near Frankfurter Tor in Berlin from 8.15pm. 

READ ALSO: Brexit: What do Brits in Germany need to think about before January 31st?

When we asked our readers how they were celebrating, there was a mixed response, with the majority of people saying they weren't planning anything.

On the British in Germany Facebook page, lots of people shared how they were feeling with us.

Nigel Crowson said: “I will have mixed feelings, I've been stressed out since the 2016 vote thinking it might not be possible to stay in Germany, my home, so the idea of Brexit happening and having to return to UK and be homeless with little money scared the hell out of me.

READ ALSO: Explained: What you need to know about applying for German citizenship

“Now since our residency is guaranteed after the ratification on 31st I will celebrate that, but will mourn UK's turbulent future, the stupidity of the leaving, and her destroyed opportunity to better a united Europe.”

Proving that Britain leaving the EU is a very sad event for some, Antonia Epona said she'd be “at home here in Germany, hiding under a duvet with a bottle of wine, probably crying my heart out”.
A Pulse of Europe meeting in Osnabrück. Photo courtesy of Charmian Bilger
Lorraine Dormann said: “I’m going to send my German hubby to work, pull down the blinds, open a bottle of red wine, turn off the door bell, refuse to return any phone calls, turn off my internet and watch a film on Netflix. Probably after a bottle of wine, I’ll forget what day it is.”
'A toast to Europe'

For June Wayland, getting a German passport is on her mind. She said: “I will be in my German home, revising for my exam to become a German citizen.”
Marie Cartwright plans to mark Brexit by looking towards Europe. “For me January ends on 30th this year. That day (31st), which for me is non existent, will be spent packing the car and getting organized for a snowshoes walking holiday in the Alps.
“On February 1st I shall begin my day with a smile and a clinking of coffee cups with my German partner, proclaiming a toast to Europe and all it has given me over the past 40 years.”
Scot Gordon Guthrie in Berlin is planning a belated Burns Day (a Scottish celebration for the poet Robert Burns) event with a Brexit twist.
He said: “We have friends escaping Brexit Day in Bristol by visiting us, so we moved our Burns Supper to 'Brexit Day' and tacked on 'F*ck Brexit' as an afterthought. That kinda sums it up really. Brexit Day is just the day that the Brexit process finally begins, not the end of anything.”
Camilla Leathem is taking part in a cheery type of protest. She said: “My choir the British Embassy Singers is planning on doing a flash mob at the Brandenburg Gate at midnight.”

Andy Anderson said he plans to take his son to the zoo in Leipzig, and then head to a beer hall in the evening. And he was feeling more positive.

“Every cloud has a silver lining and to be honest I'm fed up with the doom and gloom which some Brits have descended into (needlessly in some cases),” he said.

“I think if you move abroad you take a risk and those who have moved, speak German, jobs and families are fine.”

Meanwhile, Lizzie Boland jokingly hoped that there would be some disruption.  “My mum is visiting from the UK and hoping she will be stuck here and not allowed back in the UK,” said Boland.

READ ALSO: Can Brits still move to Germany after Brexit day

For lots of people the aim is to ignore Brexit day completely.

Susan Ihle said she'd be doing “absolutely nothing. I don't see any reason to celebrate my EU Citizenship being snatched away”.

Adrian Wood said: “Absolutely no intention of marking the occasion. I firmly believed that as I intended to stay in Germany, I would not be personally affected.”

Patrick Donoghue said he plans to follow the media coverage “and then go to bed”.
“Will be neither celebrating nor mourning – I'll just be getting on with my life,” he said.
Kathrin Bennett said she'd be “feeling a mixture of sadness, anger and Schadenfreude“.

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How roaming charges will hit travellers between the UK and EU in 2022

Trips between Europe and the UK and vice versa may well become more expensive for many travellers in 2022 as UK mobile operators bring back roaming charges. However there is some good news for all EU residents.

People look at their mobile phones.
How travellers between the EU and UK could be hit by roaming charges in 2022 (Photo by Daniel LEAL / AFP)

EU ‘roams like at home’ at least until 2032

First the good news. The European Union is set to decide to extend free roaming until 2032, so if you have your phone contract registered in an EU country you don’t have to worry about extra charges.

In addition to waiving the charges, the new regulation aims to ensure that travellers benefit of the same quality of service they have at home when travelling within the EU. If they have a 5G contract, for instance, they should also get 5G through the EU if possible. 

Under new rules, travellers should be given information about access to emergency services, including for people with disabilities.

Consumers should also be protected from prohibitive bills caused by inadvertent roaming on satellite networks when travelling on ferries or aeroplanes.

The final text of the new regulation was provisionally agreed in December. The European Parliament and Council will formally endorse it in the coming weeks.

UK companies reintroducing roaming charges this year

And now the bad news for travellers to the EU from the UK

Customers of UK mobile phone operators face higher fees when travelling in Europe this year, as some companies are bringing back roaming charges for calls, text messages and data downloaded during temporary stays in the EU.

This is one of the many consequences of the UK withdrawal from the European Union. Because of Brexit, the UK is no longer part of the EU’s “roam like at home” initiative which was designed to avoid shocking bills after holidays or business trips abroad.

The EU’s roaming regulation allows people travelling in the European Economic Area (EU countries plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) to make calls, send texts and browse the web using their regular plans at no extra cost. Switzerland is not part of the scheme, although some mobile phone providers offer roaming deals or special prices to cover travel in Switzerland.

Under EU rules, if the plan’s allowance is exceeded, the roaming fee is also capped at €0.032 per minute of voice call, €0.01 per SMS and €2.5 + VAT per gigabyte downloaded in 2022 (it was €3 + VAT in 2021). The wholesale price networks can charge each other is capped too.

The regulation was adopted for an initial period of five years and is due to expire on June 30th 2022. But the EU is preparing to extend it for another ten years. This time, however, the UK will not be covered. 

Which UK companies are reintroducing charges?

Three major UK network operators this year will reintroduce roaming charges for travels in the EU.

As of January 6th 2022, Vodafone UK will charge customers with monthly plans started after August 11th 2021 £2 per day to roam in the EU. The amount can be reduced to £1 per day by purchasing a pass for 8 or 15 days. Free roaming continues for earlier contracts, Data Xtra plans and for travels to Ireland.  

From March 3rd 2022, EE will also charge £2 per day to roam in 47 European locations, Ireland excluded. The new policy will apply to plans started from July 7th 2021. Alternatively, EE offers the Roam Abroad Pass, which allows roaming abroad for a month for £10. 

Another operator that announced a £2 daily fee to roam in the EEA, except for Ireland, is Three UK. The charge will apply from May 23rd 2022 for plans started or upgraded since October 1st 2021. The data allowance in monthly plans that can be used abroad is also capped at 12 gigabytes. 

O2 already introduced in August last year a 25-gigabyte cap (or less if the plan’s allowance is lower) to data that can be downloaded for free while travelling in Europe. Above that, customers are charged £3.50 per gigabyte. 

Other mobile operators said they have no intention to bring back roaming charges in the short term, but if won’t be surprising if they do so in the future. 

Sue Davies, Head of Consumer Protection Policy at UK consumer organisation Which? was disappointed at the changes and urged the UK and EU to “strike a deal on roaming charges” to stop companies “chipping away at the roaming benefits customers have become used to” and “prevent the return of the excessive charges people used to encounter.” 

By law, charges for mobile data used abroad remain capped at £45 per month and consumers can only continue data roaming only if they actively chose to keep spending. 

What about EU residents travelling to the UK?

In the EU, most mobile phone operators seem keen to continue free roaming for travels to the UK, but some have announced changes too.

In Sweden, Telenor aligned UK’s prices to those of non-EEA countries on May 1st 2021 while still allowing free roaming for some plans. 

Another Swedish operator, Telia, ended free roaming with the UK and Gibraltar on September 13th 2021 giving customers the option to access 200 megabytes of data for SEK 99 per day. People travelling to the UK can also buy a weekly pass allowing to make calls, send texts and download 1 GB of data. 

In Germany Telefónica Deutschland and 1 & 1 have extended current conditions for the UK until at least the end of 2022. However companies may keep other options open depending on negotiations with roaming partners. 

A1 Telekom Austria brought roaming charges back for the UK last June. Customers now have to pay €2.49 per minute for outgoing calls and €1.49 per minute for incoming calls if they are in the UK or Gibraltar. An SMS costs 99 cents and each 100 KB of data €1.49. 

This article is published in cooperation with Europe Street News, a news outlet about citizens’ rights in the EU and the UK.