Thanks to Brexit – last June’s referendum that saw a slight majority of the British public vote to leave the EU – some 300,000 Germans living and working in Britain are now concerned for their future. But what of the 100,000 mainly young skilled Brits who call Germany home, and have no wish to return to the UK? What does the future hold for them?
There are several large groups of EU citizens living in the UK, the vast majority of them working legally and paying taxes. In 2015 there were 125,000 Spaniards living in Great Britain, 150,000 French immigrants, and almost 300,000 Germans. That sequence is reversed when it comes to Brits living abroad, with 750,000 to one million living in Spain, 400,000 living in France, and just over 100,000 living in Germany.
While the bulk of those British expats living in France and Spain are retired and enjoying a life of sun, sand and sea, the vast majority of UK nationals who live in Germany are skilled professionals, employed by German companies. Germany has a large immigrant population, including 3.5 million Russians, 2.9 million Poles, 2.8 million Turks, 800,000 Italians, 325,000 Americans, 212,000 Chinese and 200,000 Spaniards. The British diaspora in Germany is relatively small, but many are highly skilled and in their own way vital to the German economy.
“Auf Wiedersehen Pet” 2017
In the 1980s, one of the most popular programs on UK TV was the situation comedy Auf Wiedersehen Pet. It followed the exploits of a bunch of British builders and bricklayers working on construction sites in Germany. The show was based on a true phenomenon in the 80s and 90s where UK builders could earn vast sums of money by working in Germany, leading to an annual exodus of thousands of builders. The three main characters in the show – Dennis, Neville and Oz are “Geordies” from Newcastle, hence “Auf Wiedersehen Pet” is literally “Goodbye Darling” in Geordie.
The modern equivalent of those Geordie bricklayers are young Brits trained in banking, computers, marketing, education and healthcare and are employed within the German services industries. Many others work in catering or in the bustling bars and pubs that can be found on any “hauptstrasse” in Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt or Hamburg. The bottom line is that unlike France and Spain, the vast majority of Brits that live in German are earning a wage and paying taxes. Many are fluent in German or have a good working knowledge of the language. What’s more, they love the German lifestyle, the high standard of living, excellent healthcare and general bonhomie, and have no wish to return to the UK any time soon.
To be eligible for German citizenship, one would need to have been a German resident for five years, and show a sound knowledge of the German language and legal system. Those Brits currently not living and working in Germany, but who are considering as a possible post-Brexit EU destination for themselves and their families should check out Passport Reviewers German investor visa program review.
The Pride In Becoming German
An article recently published on the BBC News website drew attention to the plight of the aforementioned 100,000 or so Brits in Germany, and their plans for the future. The article showed that many are rushing to apply for German residency, and if eligible even citizenship, rather than wait for the eventual outcome of Brexit, and the possibility of a future defined by visas.
The article followed the story of a young British woman named Esme who has clearly been a resident of Germany for some years. Esme showed great foresight by actually applying for German citizenship the week before the Brexit referendum in June 2016. Eight months later in February 2017, Esme was one of fifty people made up of 22 nationalities including Syrians, Americans, Iraqis, Turks, Italians and French that received their German citizenship and passports in a ceremony at her local town hall.
Germany is one of the most multicultural countries in the world, and some 20% of its 82 million population come from a “migrant background.” And yet, in a manner akin to the USA, Canada, Australia and even New Zealand, most immigrants are proud of their new country, and proud to call themselves German. In the words of Armenian world champion boxer Arthur Abraham, one of the most popular fighters in Germany, who became a naturalized German in 2006, when stating his love for the country he said “Germany has given me everything I ever dreamed of, including the love and respect of its people.”
Since Brexit, racism and racial hate-crime in the UK has risen to figures not seen in many decades. Britain is also a multi-cultural nation, but unlike Germany, it is one in which its migrant population remain largely disconnected with the country. Thanks to Britain’s decision to leave the EU, ethnic divisions looks set to rise even further, making the UK an even less appealing place to live in. No wonder those hundreds of thousands of Brits living in other EU countries are currently doing everything possible not to return!