Germany’s no-deal Brexit residency law leaves ‘many questions unanswered’

Campaigners say there is still uncertainty over the rights of British people in Germany – even though the German government has proposed a 'no-deal Brexit residency law'.

Germany's no-deal Brexit residency law leaves 'many questions unanswered'
Archive picture shows the Brexit mural by artist Banksy in Dover, UK. Photo: DPA

Matt Bristow from British in Germany (BiG) told The Local that the group welcomed the “step forward” by the German government to bring in legislation that guarantees all British people and their family members living in Germany will receive residence permits if the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal.

Germany has previously said no British person will be forced to leave Germany as a result of Brexit  but the draft law – called the Brexit-Aufenthalts-Überleitungsgesetz (Brexit Residence Transition Act) – goes a step further to provide reassurances to British nationals.

READ ALSO: New law set to guarantee Brits residency in Germany in case of no-deal Brexit

However, Bristow said the full text of the draft law must be viewed to check that it “covers everyone”. The Foreign Office has not yet published the details of the proposed legislation, which has to go through the Bundestag and would only come into force in the event of a no-deal.

The UK's Prime Minister Boris Johnson has repeatedly said that he wants to ensure the UK leaves the EU, whether a deal is in place or not by October 31st this year.

Becoming a Third Country National

In a no-deal scenario, British people living in Germany would assume the status of Third Country Nationals.

“We will be looking closely to see if it covers everyone, including those who wouldn’t otherwise necessarily qualify for standard Third Country National residence permits,” Bristow told The Local.

Details were missing from the German Foreign Office's announcement on the proposed legislation, Bristow said, such as what happens to pensioners in Germany who have their healthcare covered by the UK's NHS.

“Whilst it appears that the draft law will provide clarity around residence rights and access to the labour market, there are still many questions left unanswered,” he said.

“For example, what will happen to pensioners whose healthcare is currently paid by the UK? Will this group of people suddenly have to find hundreds of euros per month to pay for health insurance, as previous information has indeed suggested?

“At a time when the value of British pensions is falling for people living in Germany, this is money that many can ill-afford.”

Bristow said there were issues that “cannot be resolved unilaterally, or even in a bilateral agreement between the UK and Germany”.

“For example, to protect the state pensions of people who have worked in more than one EU country we need an agreement at European level,” he said.

British in Germany, which is a branch of British in Europe, is calling on governments to declare their support for ring-fencing the citizens’ rights section of the Withdrawal Agreement in the event that no overall deal can be agreed.

“We also still want to see British citizens living in the EU27 to continue to enjoy freedom of movement around the EU, as under current plans we would be landlocked, unable to move from one EU country to another,” Bristow said.

He added that there was “still a long way to go until all our existing rights are fully protected”.

No-deal to cause major job losses in Europe

The announcement came as a new study predicted a no-deal Brexit would result in the loss of 1.2 million jobs across Europe, including 291,930 in Germany.

Source: Leuven University

The study by Belgium's Leuven University found the country expected to suffer the most, perhaps not surprisingly, is the UK, where more than 500,000 jobs would be lost – up to five percent of its total workforce.

Ireland would be one of the worst-hit countries, as it stands to lose 50,330 jobs. Belgium too would lose a higher percentage of jobs, with 42,390 jobs expected to be cut there in a no-deal scenario.

Source: Leuven University

The study also looked at the potential impact if the UK left with an agreement. In that case, the number of jobs lost across Europe would be smaller – but still significant.

Germany, which has a high employment rate, would face 69,060 job losses even if Britain leaves the EU with an agreement.

Researchers took into account how supply chains across the EU and globally would be disrupted, as well as the countries' direct trade links with the UK.

To calculate the impact, researchers defined “leaving with an agreement” as a situation where the UK leaves the EU but remains part of the internal market or the European Customs Union.

For the projected no-deal scenario, researchers assumed the UK would leave the single market and fall back on trading rules of the World Trade Organization.

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‘It’s their loss’: Italian universities left off UK special study visa list

The UK is missing out by barring highly skilled Italian graduates from accessing a new work visa, Italy's universities minister said on Wednesday.

'It's their loss': Italian universities left off UK special study visa list

Universities and Research Minister Cristina Messa said she was disappointed by the UK’s decision not to allow any graduates of Italian universities access to its ‘High Potential Individual’ work permit.

“They’re losing a big slice of good graduates, who would provide as many high skills…it’s their loss,” Messa said in an interview with news agency Ansa, adding that Italy would petition the UK government to alter its list to include Italian institutions.

Ranked: Italy’s best universities and how they compare worldwide

“It’s a system that Britain obviously as a sovereign state can choose to implement, but we as a government can ask (them) to revise the university rankings,” she said.

The High Potential Individual visa, which launches on May 30th, is designed to bring highly skilled workers from the world’s top universities to the UK in order to compensate for its Brexit-induced labour shortage.

Successful applicants do not require a job offer to be allowed into the country but can apply for one after arriving, meaning potential employers won’t have to pay sponsorship fees.

Students sit on the steps of Roma Tre University in Rome.

Students sit on the steps of Roma Tre University in Rome. Photo by TIZIANA FABI / AFP.

The visa is valid for two years for those with bachelor’s and master’s degrees and three years for PhD holders, with the possibility of moving into “other long-term employment routes” that will allow the individual to remain in the country long-term.

READ ALSO: Eight things you should know if you’re planning to study in Italy

Italy isn’t the only European country to have been snubbed by the list, which features a total of 37 global universities for the 2021 graduation year (the scheme is open to students who have graduated in the past five years, with a different list for each graduation year since 2016).

The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, EPFL Switzerland, Paris Sciences et Lettres, the University of Munich, and Sweden’s Karolinska Institute are the sole European inclusions in the document, which mainly privileges US universities.

Produced by the UK’s Education Ministry, the list is reportedly based on three global rankings: Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings, and The Academic Ranking of World Universities.

Messa said she will request that the UK consider using ‘more up-to-date indicators’, without specifying which alternative system she had in mind.