On 23 June 2016 a referendum was held in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (United Kingdom) on the question of whether to continue to be a member of the European Union (EU). The majority of the population voted to leave (‘Brexit‘).
The United Kingdom government therefore declared its intention to withdraw from the EU on 29 March 2017, thus setting in motion the two-year deadline for withdrawal under the EU Treaty. Within these two years, the negotiated withdrawal agreement between the United Kingdom and the EU was not ratified by the UK Parliament. The withdrawal period was in the meantime extended to 31 October 2019. Until that date, European law will continue to apply in full with respect to the United Kingdom.
Should the withdrawal agreement be ratified before the United Kingdom leaves the EU, European law will continue to apply in regard to the United Kingdom during an implementation period until 31 December 2020 (orderly Brexit). There will be no changes for individuals paying into statutory pension schemes, nor for those who become eligible for a pension for the first time or file their application again (due to a change in circumstances) until 31 December 2020. There will also be no changes for those who are already receiving a pension before that date. Applicable arrangements from 2021 would still have to be agreed between the United Kingdom and the EU or bilaterally between the United Kingdom and Germany.
If the United Kingdom leaves the EU without a withdrawal agreement, European law will no longer apply from that date (a no-deal or disorderly Brexit). For this case, Germany has passed the, "Act on Transitional Arrangements in the Field of Social Security and in Other Areas after the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union." The EU has also made provision for this case. The EU has issued a, "Regulation Establishing Contingency Measures in the Field of Social Security Coordination Following the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the Union."
Both legal frameworks are intended to create transitional legal certainty in the area of social security and to cushion undue hardship by European law ceasing to apply to the United Kingdom, insofar as is it possible to do so unilaterally. If you were subject to UK law at any time before exit day, these legal measures are designed to give you confidence that the previous legal framework will continue to apply. In the areas of statutory pensions, this applies in particular to pension entitlements. As a result, in a no-deal scenario, the German statutory pension insurance system can use time spent paying social security contributions in the United Kingdom for assessing pension entitlements and calculating pensions. It will even be possible in certain cases to use time spent paying social security contributions in the UK after exit day. This can be done using existing practice under European law.
It is therefore important to note that your rights with respect to German statutory pension insurance will remain largely protected regardless of the outcome of the Brexit process: either through the withdrawal agreement after an orderly Brexit or through German and European transitional regulations after a no-deal Brexit.
Further developments will determine exactly which regulations will apply after a no-deal Brexit to persons who are currently paying social security contributions in Germany, the United Kingdom or any other country where European law applies due to their place of residence, a job or activity or their employer's registered office.