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1 March 2018

The Fi­nance Min­istry at the Ger­man Em­bassy in Lon­don

With her letter of 29 March 2017, British Prime Minister Theresa May triggered the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union. This was precisely the period when Werner Kerkloh arrived as the first Finance Ministry representative at the German Embassy in London.

London

The Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in London is headed up by Tania Freiin von Uslar-Gleichen, who is the chargée d’affaires a.i. there. The Embassy has around 150 staff and departments for political affairs, economic affairs, culture, press, and legal and consular affairs. The Embassy also has a defence attaché staff. With a staff of 13, the department for economic affairs also covers the area of finance, which is where Werner Kerkloh works.

As employees of Germany’s permanent representation in the United Kingdom, the Embassy staff are responsible for presenting and explaining Germany’s positions and interests. An important part of this involves nurturing contacts and cooperation with important British institutions such as the Treasury and the bodies responsible for supervising the financial services sector.

Another task of Werner Kerkloh’s is keeping abreast of developments in the United Kingdom that could become important for the German Finance Ministry; that includes subjects such as the ongoing Brexit negotiations, economic trends, budgetary procedures and financial market regulation.

Mr Kerkloh is not the only Finance Ministry employee in London: Some of his colleagues are also posted at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Interview with Werner Kerkloh

I have been working on questions surrounding financial services for over 20 years now. Having experienced and shaped the Brussels negotiation machinery from up close for four years, I was really keen to get a first-hand insight into the most important financial centre in Europe (I hope you’ll forgive me for saying that if you’re from Frankfurt!). I always knew that I would apply as soon as a suitable position in London was advertised.

In the late summer of 2016, the German Finance Ministry advertised a position at the German Embassy in London for the first time. I applied and was successful. I arrived in London right after the Brexit referendum, in a period that could turn out to play a very important role in the history of Europe.

I personally am sorry that the United Kingdom has decided to leave. I always experienced the Brits as negotiation partners who were tough, but fair. I’ve always got on very well with my British counterparts.


As I mentioned before, I am the first Finance Ministry representative to be seconded to the German Embassy in London. But of course it’s not as if Germany had been completely ignoring London’s financial market in the past few decades – the German Bundesbank has had a representative posted here for many years.

We have kept our family home in a countrified part of Berlin so I wanted my flat in London to be in a central location and found something in Westminster. The London housing market is geared towards commuters and offers nice furnished or semi-furnished flats.

Unless I have an external appointment, I begin my day with a 30-minute walk to the Embassy. I usually manage not to get caught in the rain. A Brit once told me that the proper London rain stopped when the UK voted to leave the EU.

My day is usually quite varied. I’ll have meetings at the Embassy, take part in bilateral talks, participate in events on the subject of financial services which, currently, very often deal with Brexit, and of course I’ll also have discussions with my colleagues back in Berlin. I often end the day on a cultural note, or with a walk by the Thames, which is not far from here, a phone call to my family, or by tuning in to the BBC’s News at Ten or reading the following day’s German daily newspapers online.

What I find particularly interesting about London is how it really blends history and modern life. I saw this very clearly during my recent visit to Lloyd’s, the world-leading insurance platform.

Although the Lloyd’s Building was built between 1978 and 1986, it still has something very futuristic about it today. Contrasting with the rest of the building, an eighteenth-century dining room has been put in on the eleventh floor. Even more impressive to me was the Lloyd’s Register of Ships, which is kept on the Trading Floor, amidst all the modern trading rooms. To this day, a note is made in this heavy old book with a quill, in historical handwriting, if a ship that is insured via Lloyd’s sinks. Luckily the crews usually survive when a ship sinks, and that is noted down, too.

The coming weeks, months and years in London are bound to be eventful so I am not yet thinking about the time after my posting here.
That question doesn’t really apply in my case since our family home is still in Berlin. Having spent over ten years at the Finance Ministry in Berlin, it was time for a temporary change of scenery and London was the ideal place for that.


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