28 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Berlin, I’ll never let you go!

28 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Berlin, I’ll never let you go!
© Enrico Verworner

It’s October!

In a few days, Germany will celebrate the Re-Unification of Germany, otherwise known as, German Unity Day or Der Tag der Deutschen Einheit!

This most important day will take place on October the 3rd.

October 3rd is a public holiday given to the German people to honour the Re-Unification of the two German States previously called the German Democratic Republic (GDR) or DDR (Deutsche Democratic Republic) otherwise known as East Germany, and the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) or Bundesrepublik Deutschland (BRD), otherwise also known as West Germany!

Me in front of a piece of the Berlin Wall & Street Art!

I cannot under-estimate how much I love this city.

I mean, I shout about it loud enough and it was just four (4) years ago that I introduced myself to you on this blog, when I wondered what the heck Berlin was all about anyway!

Oh yeah, and then I wrote a cheeky article which most people didn’t seem to get. And the title? Germany is Boring.

Oops!

I mean, what is the big deal?

Best German meals to try out in Berlin – Currywurst!

I’ll tell you what the big deal is my good man.

It’s the fact that the city of Berlin.

THIS city of Berlin.

Has been together in peace and harmony for 28 years.

That’s right.

28 years!

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28 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Berlin, I’ll never let you go!

WHY WAS THE BERLIN WALL SET UP IN THE FIRST PLACE?

The Berlin Wall after the opening of the Wall near Brandeburger Gate on November 11th, 1989!
@25 Archiv. Bundesstiftung Aufarbeitung – Uwe Gerig

It’s a little complicated but after WWII, Germany was split and divided by the allies as punishment for Nazi Germany. And you only had to look at the city of Berlin to see who the Allies were namely; Great Britain, France, USSR and the United States.

It was not long before arguments and squabbling took place in the international political arena and simply put, the Eastern and Western Bloc decided to go their separate ways, and an Iron Curtain ensued.

East Germany went one step further and built a wall in Berlin, cutting a line through the entire centre of the city!

This wall was supposed to prevent East Berliners and citizens of East Germany from fleeing to the West, but the Wall was unable to stop the mass of people from escaping. As a result, in 1961, the ruling Communist Party in East Germany began adding more border fortifications to the Wall, creating a broad, many-layered system of barriers.

In the West, people referred to the border strip as the death strip because so many people were killed while trying to flee.

I have seen this death wall myself as I live in East Berlin and not 10 minutes away, is the main local park called Mauer Park.

The suburb of Prenzlauerberg where I live, is now enormously trendy and gentrified, and if you’re “in,” or want to be “in,” you strive to live here.

However, let it be noted that “Mauer” in German, means “Wall.”

The Death Strip in now East Berlin but formerly French – Soviet Germany!
©Joyce, S. A.

With the downfall of East Germany in 1989, the Berlin Wall that the Socialist Party tried to use to maintain its power, also fell. The Fall of the Wall marked the definitive end of its dictatorship.

The Berlin Wall enclosed West Berlin from August 13, 1961 to November 9, 1989.

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STREETS ON BOTH SIDES OF THE WALL?

The Berlin Wall.
28 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Berlin, I’ll never let you go!

A couple of years ago, I wrote about one of my favourite places, and where I first lived in Berlin – Kreuzberg. You can read all about it right here! In my post, I mentioned that Kreuzberg had the Berlin Wall running right through the middle of it and that during the happy confusion, when the Wall actually fell, young people were leaving the East to go West, or leaving the West to go East!

In fact, I liked Kreuzberg so much that when I first made a documentary about being a British person in Berlin, we did the filming there!

OMG! Don’t I just look like a city babe!
©Pascale Scerbo Sarro

In Prenzlauer Berg where I live now, we’re about twenty (20) minutes from the original East-West border, and about ten (10) minutes from the first border crossing on the bridge of Bornholmer Straße. If you’ve ever since the videos where East Berliners were running through the border with everyone clapping and giving out free beer, it was that one!

I always take my friends to where the original wall used to be!

And let me tell you.

I always weep tears of joy because even though I wasn’t in Berlin when the Berlin Wall actually fell, living in Berlin means that I’m able to touch, see and sometimes smell, what it was like to live here pre-1989!

Potsdamer Platz today!
28 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Berlin, I’ll never let you go!

In fact, I can still remember when Potsdamer Platz was nothing more than wasteland and a piece of the border strip known as No Man’s Land. And looked like it too!

Not far off from Prenzlauer Berg, is a street called Bernauer Strasse, also known as Bernauer Straße!

Bernauer Straße as part of the Berlin Wall in 1961 – Frank Baake © Thomas Gade

As you can see, the Berlin Wall used to go right through it!

In fact, it was pretty horrid for all concerned, as you could actually see the other side of the Wall from your kitchen window, but you couldn’t go to the Western side without being shot!

Smashing through the wall! ©frizztext
Smashing through the wall!
©frizztext

Imagine the frustration, pain, and horror.

Many people tried to escape to freedom and found ways to be creative by sailing across in a hot air balloon, digging tunnels underground, pretending to have a funeral and lowering the “dead” person into a pit, hiding inside the seated lining of a Volkswagen car, etc. All for a life of freedom.

Not much of the Wall is left today, which was chipped off and destroyed almost in its entirety, however, three (3) long sections are still standing:

The Topography of Terror. You can still see parts of the Berlin Wall right behind it!
©Britta Scherer

An 80-metre-long (260 ft) piece of the first (westernmost) wall at the now Topography of Terror, but which used to be the site of the former Gestapo headquarters!

But obviously, the original building was razed to the ground.
The Berlin Wall, otherwise known as, East Side Gallery!

A longer section of the second (easternmost) wall along the River Spree near the Oberbaumbrücke in Kreuzberg / Friedrichshain, which you can see throughout the 1988 cult film Run Lola Run, otherwise known as, East Side Gallery!

Bernauer Straße in both East & West Berlin!
28 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Berlin, I’ll never let you go!

 

And a third section that is partly reconstructed, in the north at Bernauer Straße, which was turned into a memorial in 1999.

And of course, isolated fragments, lampposts, a few watchtowers, and other elements, remain throughout various parts of the city!

On the border between East & West Berlin in Germany.

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SO HOW DID THE BERLIN WALL ACTUALLY FALL?

It’s easy to forget that this situation was only 28 years ago. Most of you reading this blog, are probably older!

Let’s get some history!


2 May

Hungary begins dismantling the fortifications on the border to Austria.People demonstrate against the election rigging in front of the Sophienkirche (church).


7 May

Local elections in the GDR. Opposition groups prove that the results were faked. People demonstrate against the election rigging in East Berlin on the seventh day of every subsequent month.


4 September

First Monday Demonstration in Leipzig. 1,200 people gather outside St. Nicholas’ Church. Their demands include freedom of travel and democracy.


9 /10 September

New Forum’s initial call-out becomes a signal for change. Further grassroots movements follow.


11 September

Hungary officially opens its western border for GDR citizens, risking a breach in its diplomatic relations with East Berlin.


30 September

West Germany’s foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher informs the East German refugees in the Prague embassy, that they will be allowed to leave the GDR.


3 October

The GDR government bans travel to Czechoslovakia without passports and visas, to stem the mass exodus. Special trains transport people from the Prague and Warsaw embassies to the West, through the GDR. There are violent clashes with police along the railway line, as well as in Dresden.


7. October

On the 40th anniversary of the GDR, several thousand people demonstrate in Berlin outside the Palace of the Republic.  In numerous East German towns and cities, similar protests are broken up by force.


9 October

Despite fear of military repression of the Monday Demonstration, 70,000 people take to the streets in Leipzig. The police, military and civilian forces do not intervene.


11 October

The single ruling political party calls for people to stay in the GDR, offering a “dialogue” concerning the country’s further development.


16 October

The number of people at the Monday Demonstration in Leipzig doubles. The security forces do not intervene.


18 October

Erich Honecker is forced to resign after 18 years in office. Egon Krenz is made the new secretary-general of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED).


24 October

Krenz is also elected chairman of the State Council and the National Defence Council. 12,000 people demonstrate against his appointment in Berlin that evening.


30 October

300,000 people take part in the Leipzig Monday Demonstration.


4 November

The largest demonstration in the history of the GDR takes place in Berlin.


7 November

The government of the GDR, and the Council of Ministers collectively resign.


8 November

The Central Committee Politburo, the highest body in the GDR, resigns. West German chancellor Helmut Kohl links economic and financial aid for the GDR to three conditions: the opposition must be legalised, free elections must take place, and the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED) must renounce its claim to sole authority.


9 November

The Wall falls, prompted by a vague, but now famous, announcement of new travel regulations at a press conference. Tens of thousands of East Berliners rush to the checkpoints and force the border open.


22 December

The Berlin Wall is officially opened at Brandenburg Gate. The first concrete section is removed from its beams at 0.30 a.m.


23 December

The offices issuing passes for the GDR in West Berlin close for good. West Germans no longer need a visa, or have to change a certain amount of money, to enter the East.


1990 Chronology


31 August

The Unification Treaty is signed in East Berlin.


3 October

Germany celebrates the “Day of German Unity” also known as “Re-Unification Day.”


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28 YEARS AFTER THE FALL OF THE BERLIN WALL

Climbing up the Berlin Wall for Freedom! Freedom!!

It was the people who took to the streets en masse and courageously resisted a dictatorship, enabling both the Fall of the Berlin Wall and the Peaceful Revolution.

The 28th anniversary of the Fall of the Wall is important because Berlin will continue to invite locals, expats, eyewitnesses who were here, and people of the world, to participate in the anniversary celebrations, and to tell personal stories about the Berlin Wall.

Outside Bernauer Straße in Berlin. Everyone is going to be here!

Everyone is going to be here!

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ANYTHING ELSE?

Yep! The Festival of Lights!

Festival of Lights ©Kerstin Röhner

Once a year, Berlin’s world famous sights and monuments become the canvas for spectacular light and video projections.

From 06.10.17 – 15.10.17, the Festival of Lights will transform Berlin’s most famous landmarks and historical monuments through light projections and video art whereby different artists will light up the capital, and illuminate buildings in many parts of the city!

Not only that, but the Festival of Lights also includes various art and music events, photography workshops, open house opportunities at selected buildings, and charity events, as well as guided tours by bus, boat and on foot!

Most of the participating monuments will be focused on the city centre, and will be illuminated from 19:00 until midnight.

Every day!

For a full list of participating buildings, maps, and photographic displays, go to the official Festival of Lights website here!

WHAT IF THE BERLIN WALL ISN’T MY CUP OF TEA?

Two sides and periods, of the Berlin Wall.

As if!!

Keep reading my blog. There is more to come!

That’s it for now.

See you next week!

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28 YEARS AFTER THE FALL OF THE BERLIN WALL: BERLIN, I’LL NEVER LET YOU GO!

Festival of Lights ©Alexander Meier

This article is not sponsored and all opinions and the currywurst and bratwurst that I’m sure to be happily scoffing in the next few weeks, are my very own!

I have so much to share with you.

In the Autumn, I’ll be visiting the UK and travelling around the areas of Cheshire, Staffordshire, Manchester, Blackpool, Derbyshire and Yorkshire!

Yipee!

October & November is going to be smashing.

The Berlin Wall – 28 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Berlin, I’ll never let you go!

Watch this space!

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond, WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links, I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

28 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Berlin, I’ll never let you go!

Have you ever been to Berlin? Do you remember where you were when the Berlin Wall Fell. Where were you in 1989? Let me know in the comments below!

 See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

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Article 50 & Brexit in the UK. Everything you need to know!

Article 50 & Brexit in the UK. Everything you need to know!
©AFP / Getty Images

I didn’t want to write about this.

I wanted to write a bit more about our splendid trip to Austria.

Then Article 50 came up, and I simply couldn’t let it go without writing a few things about it.

On the 29th March, 2017, Britain said goodbye to the European Union (EU).

It was not a happy day.

For months, I’ve been involved in debating, talking, TV, radio and newspaper interviews on why my home-country is leaving the EU. In fact, just a week before Article 50, I received an offer to go on German TV to discuss my hopes and fears for Brexit!

See for yourself: Bye-bye Love: Reactions to Brexit and auf Deutsche – Bye-bye Love: Reaktionen zum Brexit.

Article 50 & Brexit in the UK. Everything you need to know!
@ JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

It’s not looking pretty.

All over Europe, British expats are rushing to start the process of double-nationality, or permanent residency.

In the UK, European expats are doing the same.

Luckily for me, I’ve been living in Germany for yonks, I’m married, I’m settled, I have a corporate job, and I speak German. And quite frankly, in these uncertain times, it doesn’t hurt to have double nationality….!

However, just to re-assure you, the British Ambassador for Germany – Ambassador Sir Sebastian Wood – on the status of UK citizens in Germany,  categorically said that “there has been no change to the rights and status of EU nationals in the UK, and UK nationals in the EU.” You can see his video speech here.

Brexit. Please don't go! ©Der Spiegel - Getty Images.
Brexit. Please don’t go! ©Der Spiegel – Getty Images.

After sixty (60) years of friendship, Brexit is the worse disaster that has happened to the EU since the beginning of World War 2!

Last June, my fellow British compatriots voted in a referendum on whether the UK should leave or stay in the EU.

The people voted to leave.

You know my opinion about this, but here’s a reminder:

Brexit: So Britain is out of the European Union.
Now what?
We're not leaving!
We’re not leaving!

It was quite upsetting and begins two years of wrangling, arguing, disputation, and down-right nastiness.

Brexit was triggered by a process known as Article 50.

WHAT IS ARTICLE 50 ALL ABOUT?

Theresa May’s Brexit letter in Brussels.
©Yves Herman / Reuters

Well, Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon gives any EU member the right to quit unilaterally, and outlines the procedure for doing so.

It gives the leaving country two years to negotiate an exit deal and once it’s set in motion, it can’t be stopped except by the unanimous consent of all member states.

Once in the EU, there has never be a way, or a need, to legally leave the EU before the Treaty of Lisbon was signed in 2007.

WHEN DID THE UK JOIN THE EU?
The UK joined the European Economic Community (the forerunner of the EU), on January 1st, 1973.

WHAT IS THE EUROPEAN UNION?

The European Union – otherwise known as the EU – is an economic and political partnership involving now, twenty-seven (27) European countries!

The European Union – otherwise known as the EU – is an economic and political partnership involving twenty-eight (28) European countries!

The idea of fostering economic co-operation, began with the Second World War notion that countries that trade together, are more likely to avoid going to war with one another!

Since then, the EU has grown to become a “single market” allowing goods and people to move around, as if the member states were one country. The EU has its own currency – the euro – which is used by nineteen (19) of the member countries, its own parliament, and it’s own laws, rules and regulations. With a GDP of more than $18,000 billion, and a population of more than 500m, the EU is the largest economy in the world!

HAS ANY MEMBER STATE EVER LEFT THE EU?
No nation-state has ever left the EU before. Except for Greenland – an overseas territory of Denmark!

THE UK HAS LEFT THE EU. WOULD IT BE ABLE TO REJOIN IN THE FUTURE?

No nation-state has ever previously left the EU.
Except for Greenland – an overseas territory of Denmark!

Yes!

The UK would have to start from scratch with no rebate, and enter in to accession talks with the EU. And every member state would have to agree to the UK re-joining! However, the issue of UK demands which Britain had before, would no longer be put into consideration.

WHAT IS THE LISBON TREATY?

The Lisbon Treaty (which became law in December 2009) is designed to make the EU “more democratic, more transparent and more efficient” and is an agreement signed by the heads of state and governments of countries that are EU members.

WHEN WAS ARTICLE  50 TRIGGERED?

Article 50 &Brexit in the UK. Everything you need to know!

Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50 shortly before 12:30pm on March 29 2017, giving Britain a final official date of leaving the EU of no later than April 2019!

WHAT ARE THE REAL DETAILS OF ARTICLE 50?

The real details of Article 50…!

There are five elements to Article 50:

1. Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.

2. A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention. In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union. That agreement shall be negotiated in accordance with Article 218(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It shall be concluded on behalf of the Union by the Council, acting by a qualified majority, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.

3. The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.

4. For the purposes of paragraphs 2 and 3, the member of the European Council or of the Council representing the withdrawing Member State shall not participate in the discussions of the European Council or Council or in decisions concerning it. A qualified majority shall be defined in accordance with Article 238(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

5. If a State which has withdrawn from the Union asks to rejoin, its request shall be subject to the procedure referred to in Article 49.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

Article 50 means that for the next two (2) years, Britain must thrash out a deal for leaving the EU. It’s a process that’s likely to be lengthy, complicated, and painful for all, as any deal must be approved by a “qualified majority” of EU member states, and can be vetoed by the European Parliament.

WHAT IS BREXIT ALL ABOUT AGAIN?

Article 50 & Brexit in the UK. Everything you need to know!

Brexit is a shorthand way of referring to the British exit from the EU. It is a word that merges “Britain” and “Exit” thus creating “Brexit” similar to the term “Grexit,” which was used to refer to the possibility that Greece might leave the Eurozone.

WHAT IS A REFERENDUM?
A referendum is a vote in which anyone of voting age can take part, normally giving a “Yes” or “No” answer to a question. Whichever side gets more than half of all votes cast, is considered to have won.

Yes (leave), won!

WHY DID WE HAVE A BREXIT REFERENDUM IN THE FIRST PLACE?

I might not have liked the outcome, but a Brexit Referedum was promised!
©Reuters / David Moir

David Cameron – the then British Prime Minister – promised to make this happen if he won the 2015 general election.

He won!

This act was in a response to the “European question in British politics,” reduced influence in European rules and regulations, and agitated calls from members of his own political party – the Conservatives – and the UK Independence Party (UKIP), who argued that Britain had not had a real say about issues since 1975, when it voted to stay in the EU, in a referendum at the time!

HOW LONG WILL BREXIT TAKE?

The official process of Brexit is supposed to take two years, but experts believe that it could take longer. The timescale can be extended, but only by the unanimous consent of the European Council, which technically means that every member state would have to agree.

The terms of exit will be negotiated between Britain’s 27 other counterparts, and each will have a veto over the conditions. Triggering Article 50 starts the clock. After this, the Treaties that govern membership no longer apply to Britain.

IS BREXIT REALLY GOING TO BE AN ISSUE FOR THE UNITED KINGDOM?

Article 50 & Brexit in the UK. Everything you need to know!
©Jonathan McHugh

On paper, not at all.

In reality, it’s all very complicated.

The agreement of a new trade relationship, economic tariffs, and the issue of free movement is going to be a sore topic, and could take a process of up to five (5) years!

WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL ANYWAY?

The EU is like a family and like all families, you have disagreements, and quarrels.

Well the thing is, the EU is like a family and like all families, you have disagreements, and quarrels. What you don’t do is threaten to leave the family unit, and hope to live happily ever after. Or worse, have all your demands fulfilled.

The fact is, other family members, although they love each other, believe in tough love, and don’t want to encourage tantrums, otherwise, everyone else will be threatening to leave too!

In short, European leaders want the agreements and conditions to be effective and brutal, so that other member states are discouraged from following suit…!

WHAT’S THE NEXT STEP FOR THE UK?

The Govt & many of the British working classes want Hard Brexit, but hopefully, common sense will allow a softer Brexit instead!
©NurPhoto via Getty Images

Theresa May (the British Prime Minsiter) plans to transpose EU laws onto British statutes allowing the Government to analyse and reject whatever laws it sees fit.

To do this, the UK government would have to perform three acts simultaneously:

  • Negotiate a new deal with Brussels
  • Win a series of major bilateral trade deals around the world
  • Revise its own governance as EU law recedes

The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union – David Davis – will be supervising the process.

ANY POSSIBLE FUTURE PROBLEMS AS A RESULT OF BREXIT?

The potential for the United Kingdom itself to Break Up is more possible than you can ever imagine, as Northern Ireland might decide to Re-Unite with the Republic!

Sadly, yes.

AND WHAT ABOUT THE EU ITSELF?

Article 50 & Brexit in the UK. Everything you need to know!
©Claudio Cadei – CartoonMovement

The focus is on driving a hard bargain on the rights of European citizens in Britain, and likewise, British citizens in Europe, making negotiations with the UK that we can all live with whilst at the same time, keeping the EU together, making demands that still open markets for trade on friendly terms, and unity on security and military co-operation to fight terrorism and crime, whether the nation-state is part of the EU or not.

WHY I THINK BRITAIN SHOULD HAVE STAYED IN THE EU?

The outcome of Brexit was crazy!
@Visit England – Rich J Jones

Britain is important. What we do or don’t do, matters.

Moreover, being a part of the EU gives Britain a boost in almost every way. We’re able to do business in the “single market,” we would be able to attract the best minds all over the world, who complement our economic prosperity, as well as our social future in the guise of helping to pay and provide for public services. To stay in the EU is to receive a big boost in reciprocal membership.

It’s simple really.

If we’re in the European Union, we have a say on what goes on within – economically, socially, and politically. We’ll be a secure part of one of the best clubs in the world – a 28-nation club – exclusively set up to protect and look out for each other.

At a time of extreme danger to our way of life, and an increase in terrorism, we  need the EU.

Now that we’ve opt to leave the Union, as an island nation. We’re out. Alone.

And really isolated from the rest of the Continent.

Now that Brexit & Article 50 has been triggered, as an island nation. We’re out. Alone.

Is anyone going to win?

Not really.

ARTICLE 50 & BREXIT IN THE UK. EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW!

Article 50 & Brexit in the UK. Everything you need to know!
©Kate Green/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

This article isn’t sponsored and all opinions connected to Brexit & Article 50, are my very own!

Next week, I’ll be writing my last article about Austria!

In April & May, I’ll be visiting Croatia, Sweden & Finland!

From 07.03.17 – 09.03.17, our friends – the British musical and comedy duo – Carrington Brown – will be performing Germany’s premiere of Carrington-Brown feat. The Swonderful Orchestra: Comedy meets Classics at Tipi!

I’ll be there. Will you?

If you’re not in Berlin in April. Well then?

Article 50 & Brexit in the UK. Everything you need to know!

Watch this space!

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond, WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

Article 50 & Brexit in the UK. Everything you need to know!
Article 50 & Brexit in the UK. Everything you need to know!

What do you think of Brexit & Article 50? Do you fear it,or do you agree with it? Share & let me know below! 

See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

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BREXIT: The UK’s EU referendum – Real facts you should know!

BREXIT: The UK's EU referendum - Real facts you should know! @Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
BREXIT: The UK’s EU referendum – Real facts you should know!
@Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

In less than a week, we (British people) are going to vote in a most important election that will not only affect the United Kingdom, but that of its neighbours’ – members of the European Union (the EU) too.

If you’re a British expat living abroad within the last 15 years, you should have registered as an overseas elector. This entitles you to vote in the UK Parliamentary General Elections, UK – wide referendums, and European Parliamentary elections. The deadline for registering to vote in the EU referendum on 23 June has passed.

For more information on overseas voting, please go here.

Myself and Andrea Vannahme having High Tea on the rbb Abendshow LIVE! © Pascale Scerbo Sarro
Myself and Andrea Vannahme having High Tea on the rbb Abendshow LIVE!
© Pascale Scerbo Sarro

As The British Berliner and therefore, a British expat myself, I have been invited by various press and media organisations, to make comment on my views, and what it means.

Indeed, as the local British expert on socio-political things topics concerning Britain and the UK, I  have been regularly solicited. In fact, this week, I was so booked-up, I even had to turn down a few requests!

I was asked to participate in a short TV report on the 5th wedding anniversary of William & Kate for the European Culture Euromaxx programme of Deutsche Welle TV. I talked about the image of the monarchy and their role as a modern couple.  Deutsche Welle (DW) TV is a bit like the BBC, but made to promote German culture instead!

They really liked my part and sent me the link, but it was a busy time in my office so I hadn’t realized that it would only be available for a week, before it disappeared!

Sadly, I haven’t got a record of it and I was wearing my pink polka-dotted trench coat too!

We're not leaving! We're European too!
We’re not leaving. We’re European too!

Not long after, one of the Editors of FOCUS Magazin contacted me. She had seen my blog, and wanted to get my views on how British people living in Germany were feeling about the referendum.

The Magazine is based in Munich, so she interviewed me over the phone.

I was contacted by a reporter from the German Radio Station rbb Inforadio (ARD), who was doing a report about the Brexit discussion leading up to the referendum.

I had worked with the rbb station before so I was very happy to work with them again.

Berlin - very British - rbb
Berlin – very British – rbb

She wanted to meet me in person to do the interview and in fact, used to live in my Berlin gentrified neighbourhood!

We went to a French restaurant nearby, and over a few glasses of red wine, she whipped out her microphone and interviewed me!

Last week, I was contacted by many other media organisations but I was only able to accept a few because….drum roll pleeeeeease!

I'm going to be on radioeins - Radio 1! Die radioeins Morgenshow
I’m going to be on radioeins – Radio 1!
Die radioeins Morgenshow

I’m going to be on radioeins (Die radioeins Morgenshow) or in English – ‪‎on the Radio1‬ Morning Show with Stefan Rupp and Christoph Azone on Der schöne Morgen!

It’s a very busy time right now, so they’re going to ring me at home, and you’ll be able to hear me (pretty much LIVE), and speaking in German!

It’ll be broadcast on Monday morning (20.06.16) at 09:35!

Huge Gulp!

I'm a very happy British lifestyle, expat, travel blogger. Right here in the beautiful city of Berlin - © Pascale Scerbo Sarro
I’m a very happy British lifestyle, expat, travel blogger. Right here in the beautiful city of Berlin –
© Pascale Scerbo Sarro

But the most exciting biggest news of all, is that I was invited to join in a documentary‬ by a well-known British‬ ‪‎standup‬ / comedian,‬ for a famous‬ British TV station‬!

I can’t say more than that, except that I’m really thrilled!

I’ll be talking about Brexit‬ and how it affects ‪‎British expats‬ living in ‪‎Germany‬ and ‪‎Europe‬.

Marvellous stuff!

Now that I’ve told you what I’ve been up to, let’s get down to the serious stuff:

BREXIT: THE UK’s EU REFERENDUM – REAL FACTS YOU SHOULD KNOW!

BREXIT: The UK's EU referendum - Real facts you should know! ©Alamy
BREXIT: The UK’s EU referendum – Real facts you should know!
©Alamy

WHAT IS BREXIT ALL ABOUT?
Brexit is a shorthand way of referring to a possible British exit from the EU. It is a word that merges “Britain” and “Exit” thus creating “Brexit” similar to the term “Grexit,” which was used to refer to the possibility that Greece might leave the Eurozone.

WHAT IS A REFERENDUM?
A referendum is a vote in which anyone of voting age can take part, normally giving a “Yes” or “No” answer to a question. Whichever side gets more than half of all votes cast, is considered to have won.

WHY ARE WE HAVING A BREXIT REFERENDUM IN THE FIRST PLACE?
David Cameron – the British Prime Minister – promised to make this happen if he won the 2015 general election.

He did!

This act was in a response to the “European question in British politics,” reduced influence in European rules and regulations, and agitated calls from members of his own political party – the Conservatives – and the UK Independence Party (UKIP), who argued that Britain had not had a real say about issues since 1975, when it voted to stay in the EU, in a referendum at the time!

BREXIT: The UK's EU referendum - Real facts you should know!
BREXIT: The UK’s EU referendum – Real facts you should know!

WHEN IS THE EU REFERENDUM TAKING PLACE?
Thursday, June 23rd, 2016.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF THE UK VOTES FOR BREXIT?
It’s difficult to say as nobody seems to know the details!

No nation state has ever left the EU. Except for Greenland - an overseas territory of Denmark!
No nation-state has ever left the EU.
Except for Greenland – an overseas territory of Denmark!

HAS ANY MEMBER STATE EVER LEFT THE EU?
No nation-state has ever left the EU. Except for Greenland – an overseas territory of Denmark!

WHAT DO THE EXPERTS THINK?
Most Economists believe that leaving the EU would be a fatal damaging step for the British economy.

However, some experts think that technically, it would be possible for Britain to leave the EU, thus removing the right for the free movement of EU citizens, whilst at the same time retaining access to the EU single trade market. Other experts believe that the UK could follow the Norwegian initiative which is not to be a member state of the European Union (EU), but to have a close association through membership in the European Economic Area (EEA), or like Switzerland, which is not a member state of the European Union either! In this case, relations between Switzerland and the European Union are framed by a series of bilateral treaties that allow Switzerland to participate in trading agreements.

In short, having our cake and eating it!

Athletes at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, running for their country.
Athletes at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, running for their country.

WHO CAN VOTE IN THE UK’s EU REFERENDUM?
Anybody who is a British, Irish or Commonwealth citizen (including Australia, Canada, India, and 48 other Commonwealth nations who are living in the UK), citizens of British overseas territories, such as the Falkland Islands, Bermuda or Gibraltar, and “special” EU citizens from Ireland, Malta and Cyprus, over the age of 18 and resident in the UK. Expat British people can also vote, if they are UK nationals who have lived abroad for less than 15 years.

HOW DO YOU VOTE?
If you have registered to vote, you’ll be sent a card telling you when voting takes place and where you should go to vote on June 23rd. On that day, when you go to the polling station you will be given a piece of paper with the referendum question on it. You then go to a booth, which will have a pencil in it for your use. You then put a X in the box which reflects your choice, and put the paper into a ballot box. Alternatively, you would have been able to opt to vote by post.

BREXIT: The UK's EU referendum. Real facts you should know!
BREXIT: The UK’s EU referendum.
Real facts you should know!

WHY SHOULD BRITAIN STAY IN THE EU?
Britain is important. What we do or don’t do, matters.

Moreover, being a part of the EU gives Britain a boost in almost every way. We’re able to do business in the “single market,” we would be able to attract the best minds all over the world, who complement our economic prosperity, as well as our social future in the guise of helping to pay and provide for public services. To stay in the EU is to receive a big boost in reciprocal membership.

It’s simple really.

If we’re in the European Union, we have a say on what goes on within – economically, socially, and politically. We’ll be a secure part of one of the best clubs in the world – a 28-nation club exclusively set up to protect and look out for each other.

At a time of extreme danger to our way of life, and an increase in terrorism, we  need the EU.

If we opt to leave the Union, then as an island nation. We’ll be out. Alone.

And really isolated from the rest of the Continent.

The United Kingdom is an island nation. We'll be out. Alone.
The United Kingdom is an island nation.
We’ll be out. Alone.

WHY SHOULD BRITAIN LEAVE THE EU?
According to the latest opinion polls, the British public are fairly evenly split.

Some people believe that Britain is being held back by the EU, which they say imposes too many rules on business, and charges huge amounts of money, for little in return. They also want Britain to take back full control of its borders, and reduce the number of people coming to live and/or work, as one of the main principles of EU membership is free movement within member or associated member states. They also don’t like the idea of an “ever closer union,” and what they see as the beginning of a movement towards the creation of a “United States of Europe.”

WHAT ABOUT BUSINESS?
Business is generally in favour of Britain staying within the EU, due to the ease and flexibility to move people, products, and finance structures, around the world.

On the other hand, there are some business agencies who favour negotiating trade deals with individual countries, “rather than being one of 28 nations.” Many small and medium-sized firms would also welcome a cut in red tape and “petty regulations.”

SO WHO’S CAMPAIGNING?

BREXIT: The UK's EU referendum - Real facts you should know!
BREXIT: The UK’s EU referendum – Real facts you should know!

BRITAIN STRONGER IN EUROPE: The main cross-party group campaigning for Britain to remain in the EU is headed by former Marks and Spencer (M&S) Chairman Lord Rose. Influential backing also includes Prime Minister David Cameron, Chancellor George Osborne, the Lib Democrats, Plaid Cymru, the Alliance party, the SDLP in Northern Ireland, and the Green Party.

LABOUR IN FOR BRITAIN: Headed by the party leader Jeremy Corbyn and Alan Johnson, and supported by most Labour MPs.

REMAIN: The Scottish National Party (SNP) is running its own Remain campaign in Scotland, as it does not want to share a platform with the Conservatives. Several smaller groups have also registered to campaign.

VOTE LEAVE: A cross-party campaign that has the backing of senior Conservatives such as Michael Gove and Boris Johnson, plus a handful of Labour MPs, including Gisela Stuart and Graham Stringer, the UKIP’s Douglas Carswell and Suzanne Evans, and the DUP in Northern Ireland. Former Tory chancellor Lord Lawson and SDP founder Lord Owen, are also involved.

The UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage is not part of Vote Leave, but his party is running its own campaign.

OUT: The Trade Union and Socialist Coalition is also running its own out campaign.

FARMERS FOR BRITAIN

MUSLIMS FOR BRITAIN

OUT and PROUD.

All three are affiliated groups that are anti – EU.

BREXIT: The UK's EU referendum - Real facts you should know!
BREXIT: The UK’s EU referendum – Real facts you should know!

IF THE UK LEFT THE EU, WOULD UK CITIZENS NEED SPECIAL PERMITS TO WORK IN THE EU?
It depends!

If the UK remained within the single market, it would almost certainly retain free movement rights allowing UK citizens to work in the EU, and vice versa. If the government opted to impose work permit restrictions, then other countries could reciprocate, meaning British people would have to apply for visas in order to work in Europe.

IF THE UK LEFT THE EU, HOW WOULD THIS AFFECT EU NATIONALS WHO WANT TO WORK IN THE UK?
Again, it depends!

If the UK government decided to introduce a work permit system of the kind that currently applies to non-EU citizens, limiting entry to skilled workers in professions where there are shortages, then EU nations would most likely reciprocate, and do the same.

HOW LONG WOULD ALL THE PAPERWORK TAKE?
The minimum period after a vote to leave, would be two years.

During that time Britain would continue to abide by EU treaties and laws, but not take part in any decision-making. In practice it would probably take longer than two years, depending on how negotiations would go.

BREXIT: The UK's EU referendum - Real facts you should know!
BREXIT: The UK’s EU referendum – Real facts you should know!

IF THE UK LEFT THE EU, WOULD IT BE ABLE TO REJOIN IN THE FUTURE?
Yes!

The UK would have to start from scratch with no rebate, and enter in to accession talks with the EU, and every member state would have to agree to the UK re-joining! However, the issue of UK demands which Britain has now, would not be put into consideration.

WHEN DID THE UK JOIN THE EU?
The UK joined the European Economic Community (the forerunner of the EU), on January 1st, 1973.

WHAT IS THE EUROPEAN UNION?
The European Union – otherwise known as the EU – is an economic and political partnership involving twenty-eight (28) European countries!

The idea of fostering economic co-operation, began with the Second World War notion that countries that trade together, are more likely to avoid going to war with one another!

Since then, the EU has grown to become a “single market” allowing goods and people to move around, as if the member states were one country. The EU has its own currency – the euro – which is used by nineteen (19) of the member countries, its own parliament, and it’s own laws, rules and regulations. With a GDP of more than $18,000 billion, and a population of more than 500m, the EU is the largest economy in the world!

The free movement of goods, services, money, and people within the European Union, is good for business.
The free movement of goods, services, money, and people within the European Union, is good for business.

WHAT IS THE SINGLE MARKET?
The European Union single market, developed in 1992, allows the free movement of goods, services, money, and people, within the European Union, as if it were a single country.

The idea was to boost trade, create jobs, and lower prices. However, it requires a common law to ensure products are made to the same technical standards and level of quality and expectation. Critics say it generates too many petty regulations, and robs members of control over their own nations. Other critics state mass migration (free movement) as having been abused by poorer East European countries who flock to wealthier West European nations.

SO WOULD BRITAIN BE BETTER IN OR OUT?

I think you know my answer to that, and I’ll be in the German media throughout the week discussing it!

Would Britain be better In the EU or Out of the EU? ©Philippe Huguen
Would Britain be better In the EU or Out of the EU?
©Philippe Huguen

This article is not sponsored, and all opinions connected to this most important referendum, are my very own!

From June 28th – July 2nd, I’ll be at Berlin Fashion Week.

Save the Date!

June is going to be outrageous darling!

I’ll be there. Will you?

As usual, you can also follow me via daily tweets and pictures on Twitter & Facebook!

If you’re not in Berlin in June, you must be out of your mind!

Watch this space!

BREXIT: The UK's EU referendum - Real facts you should know!
BREXIT: The UK’s EU referendum – Real facts you should know!

Would Britain be better In the EU or Out of the EU? Have your say?

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post or if you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com