Will the Cultural Diplomatic Bond Between Britain and Germany Remain After Brexit?

As a result of Brexit, the citizens of the UK have been living in uncertainty of what their future in Europe holds. Or more specifically, in Germany, and how this may affect the cultural exchange between the states

February 25th, 2019
Amna Iqbal, News from Berlin
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This article will explain why Brexit is not necessarily a threat the cultural diplomatic relationship between UK and Germany, or to Brits living in Germany, and Germans living in the UK. The first section explains the influence of Brexit on the British citizens living in Germany.

Furthermore, cooperation solutions that have been suggested, like becoming a part of the European Economic Area (EEA) like Norway will be presented. Additionally, whether Brexit will challenge the cultural exchange through educational cooperation’s and artistic findings abroad between the UK and Germany will be evaluated. Towards the end, the importance of the rights of these citizens will be analyzed. All of this then leads to the conclusion that Brexit may not have a challenging impact on the British people living in Germany, and the cultural diplomatic relationship between the United Kingdom and Germany. As the cultural exchange through civil society is important.

One essential part to understand regarding Brexit, is that the UK was already changing before the referendum happened. Therefore, it is important not to decide that Brexit is the only reason for the changed relationship between the UK and the European Union (EU). Changes do occur, but principals within cultural diplomacy, such as strengthening the relationship regardless of the changes is what is essential in this matter. This further, gives the possibility to argue that Brexit will not challenge the situation of Brits living in the different German cities, as well as other EU states.

As the British embassy in Berlin explains, negotiations are not yet set (Gov.uk, n.d) but it is important to understand that there are non-EU nations like Norway, that still have a strong cooperation with the EU. As Professor Adam Lazovski suggests in his article ““Norwegian Model: Oh really?” for The UK in a changing Europe, The UK has the option to follow the Norwegian model, as a way to remain in cooperation with the European Union, and its members like Germany (Lazowski et al.,2016). Which means that they can be a part of the EEA agreement, which will not only allow the UK to have economic cooperation with the EU, but it also gives the Brits the freedom to move freely between UK and Germany, as well as other member states (Efta.int, n.d, Lazowski et al.,2016). Now, this actually may be a win-win situation for both Britain and the European Union. Why one may ask? Firstly, due to less interference the UK will have from the EU, but they will still remain in cooperation. Most importantly, it will also let the British people living and working in Germany continue as they have.

Although Brexit has been a hot-topic all over the United Kingdom, this topic has moved all the way to the capital city of Germany, Berlin. In fact, a law in Berlin is being drafted which will not only allow British citizens to keep their original citizenship, but also let smaller businesses that currently use EU freedoms, to register under British rule (Perring, 2018). However, after Brexit, they will need to convert to German companies which will allow the companies as well as the British workers to continue as they have (Perring, 2018). Negotiations regarding bigger businesses have not yet been set. However, what this law being drafted in Berlin presents, is that the relationship between the UK and Germany remains strong and that negotiations have to be set regardless of the outcome of Brexit. Which will not only help these two nations to retain their relationship, but also continue the cultural exchange through civil society, for instance by the exchange of its people and the language.

Most importantly, as noted, the demographic split between the Brexit vote was very significant. Mainly, as the younger population of Britain decided to vote “remain” (Stuart, 2017). Specifically, due to the large educational and language exchange throughout Germany and Europe, as well as the different students from across Germany and Europe. However, this exchange additionally adds cultural exchange, where Brits and Germans therefore strengthens and increase the diplomatic relationship in civil society. Which is also why this is an important aspect of the politics, and the outcomes of Brexit.

One of the largest important relationships between the UK and Germany, has been the cultural exchange through education and research institutions (Stuart, 2017). Especially through a well-known program, the “Erasmus program”, which allows students to spend time abroad at a different institution in Germany or the UK. Additionally, there are volunteering options and language teaching programs through Erasmus, and even the British Council which for several years has been popular among the younger population of Europe (Stuart, 2017). Moreover, arts funding’s abroad within different European states has been essential in order to continue cultural and artistic exchange (Knight and Govinda, 2017). Around 67% of English art organizations work within different EU states (SYM consulting, 2018). The concerns here are how this widely spread English culture in Germany, and the EU will be affected due to Brexit (Knight and Govinda, 2017. Firstly, as the number is significantly large of the artistic and cultural funds and projects abroad, it only explains that this may not be drastically changed due to Brexit. Additionally, both the UK and Germany have invested a lot within the aspect of higher education and research (Stuart, 2017), which therefore automatically explains that if Brexit was to stop this, it would not only challenge the cultural exchange, but also the educational and cultural investment, which it would be possible to argue to that Germany and the UK would not want. Theresa May, has also emphasis on the matter that the rights of British and the European citizens are essential (The Guardian, 2017), which of course therefore puts cultural exchange through artistic projects abroad and higher education as an important matter.

“You remain a high priority”

In a letter from the British Ambassador Sir Sebastian Wood, which he writes to The Local, he stresses that the Brits and the citizens of Europe are a high priority (Thelocal.de, 2018). Additionally, as there are a large number of British citizens living in Germany, the aim of the UK is for them to remain the same and continue as they have done before Brexit. Furthermore, Theresa May has also expressed the importance of the both the UK and European citizens (The Guardian, 2017). Especially on that matter of rights of the people living and working in Germany, other places in Europe and those in the UK will be granted (Thelocal.de, 2018). Importantly what the point is here is to understand that the UK and Germany would need to work even more closely and have stronger negotiations.

It is therefore possible to establish that although Brexit is an ongoing situation, cultural diplomatic relationships will always have an importance. Especially as the diplomatic relationship between Brits and Germans within civil society is strong. Specifically, due to the large exchange of British and German people within these states, through work, higher education or for cultural and artistic reasons, and of the exchange of the languages, English and the German. This therefore supports a conclusion that cultural diplomatic relationship is an essential matter and important to retain, through situations like Brexit.

Research sources:

Ecreu.com. (2018). What Brexit means for expat citizens in EU. [online] Available at: https://www.ecreu.com/expat-rights.html [Accessed 8 Feb. 2019].

Efta.int. (n.d.). European Economic Area (EEA) / Relations with the EU | European Free Trade Association. [online] Available at: https://www.efta.int/eea [Accessed 9 Feb. 2019].

Gov.uk. (n.d.). Germany and the UK - GOV.UK. [online] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/world/germany/news [Accessed 8 Feb. 2019].

Hunt, A. and Wheeler, B. (2017). Brexit: All you need to know about the UK leaving the EU. [online] https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-32810887. Available at: https://scienzepolitiche.uniroma3.it/aelia/wp-content/uploads/sites/29/2009/11/Brexit.pdf [Accessed 14 Feb. 2019].

Knight, J. and Govinda, M. (2017). Two insider views on how Brexit will affect UK arts | British Council. [online] Britishcouncil.org. Available at: https://www.britishcouncil.org/voices-magazine/two-insider-views-brexit-arts [Accessed 22 Feb. 2019].

Lazowski, P., Caird, J., Taylor, D., Wilson, D. and Gordon, P. (2016). Norwegian model for the UK: oh really? - UK in a changing Europe. [online] UK in a changing Europe. Available at: https://ukandeu.ac.uk/norwegian-model-for-the-uk-oh-really/ [Accessed 7 Feb. 2019].

Luyken, J. (2018). What you should know about the Brexit deal if you're British in Germany. [online] Thelocal.de. Available at: https://www.thelocal.de/20181126/what-you-should-know-about-brexit-if-you-are-british-living-in-germany [Accessed 9 Feb. 2019].

Perring, R. (2018). Germany to CHANGE agreed EU citizen rules for expats after Brexit. [online] Express.co.uk. Available at: https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1029589/Germany-brexit-no-deal-angela-merkel-news-germany-laws [Accessed 10 Feb. 2019].

Pisan-Ferry et al, J. (2016). Europe after brexit: A proposal for a continental partnership, pp.6, 7, 8 and 10.

Stuart, M. (2017). The Impact of Brexit on International Cultural Relations in the European Union. [online] Ssoar.info. Available at: https://www.ssoar.info/ssoar/bitstream/handle/document/54767/ssoar-2017-macdonald-The_Impact_of_Brexit_on.pdf?sequence=1 [Accessed 17 Feb. 2019].

 SYM Consulting. (2018). Brexit, arts and culture. [online] Available at: https://www.symconsulting.co.uk/news/brexit-arts-and-culture [Accessed 23 Feb. 2019]

the Guardian. (2017). Theresa May stresses importance of early deal on EU citizens' rights. [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/feb/17/theresa-may-stresses-importance-of-early-deal-on-eu-citizens-rights [Accessed 14 Feb. 2019].

Thelocal.de. (2018). ‘You remain a very high priority’: a letter to Brits from the UK ambassador. [online] Available at: https://www.thelocal.de/20180704/ambassador-brexit-letter-brits [Accessed 9 Feb. 2019].

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