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Brits in Greece – Paper on Brexit Concerns

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        There is a closed group on Facebook called British in Greece.

        They are linked with other groups of Brits across the EU and submitted respective papers from their countries of residence.

        Accordingly, they have prepared a paper of Brits concerns in Greece over the post-Brexit conditions of continued residency and the implications.

        Out of interest, I attach the document.

        What do you think?




        There are an estimated 40,000 UK nationals living in Greece, the majority of whom are of working age. Most are registered according to Greek law as resident EU nationals although there are an unknown number who are unaware of the need to do so.

        High on the Greek government’s agenda are the estimated 80,000 Greek nationals resident in the UK as well as the 6 million British tourists who visit Greece every year. Maintaining the rights of Greek nationals in the UK as well as visa free travel for visitors to Greece is therefore paramount for them.

        British in Greece has over 800 members but we are in contact with other UK emigrant groups in Greece so our reach is greater. Our main aim is to provide support and practical details for dealing with Greek bureaucratic processes. We have been unable to establish a direct line of communication with the Greek government despite several attempts. The British Embassy has been polite in answering our requests  for simple information but our appeals for clarification concerning Greek legislation are countered with a request to seek information directly from the Greek government.

        Greek contingency legislation

        On 19 March 2019, the Greek Parliament approved Law 4604/21019 which promises to  guarantee UK citizens’ rights in Greece after the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. It includes provisions both for the case of ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement as well as for the case of a no deal scenario.

        Rights to residence and employment with a deal.

        The law confirms that on ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement, the rights of UK citizens and their family members already living in EU countries, including Greece, will be fully protected, according to Part II of the Agreement. Their rights will also be fully protected during the transition/implementation period (from withdrawal date until the end of 2020), as provided for in Part III of the Withdrawal Agreement.

        Rights to residence and employment in no-deal.

        In case of no deal, the law provides for a grace period, from withdrawal date until 31 December 2020, during which ‘UK citizens and their family members legally residing in Greece before the withdrawal date (holders of a Registration Certificate or a Permanent Residence Document) will be able to continue to stay, work and study under the same conditions and with the same rights as prior to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU’. Those who have not registered will also have the opportunity to register up until this date. The law ‘does not preclude the adoption of additional or more favorable measures in case of no deal (for UK citizens’ residence, social security and healthcare), but this will depend on further EU decisions as well as on reciprocity by the United Kingdom’.

        The validity of the residence documents issued for UK citizens and their family members in Greece prior to withdrawal date will be extended until the end of 2020. These documents will be considered as temporary national residence permits. All residence documents will expire on 31 December 2020. As of 1 January 2021, they will be replaced by biometric residence permits. These will take two forms, either a long term EU residence permit for third country nationals (with integration requirements waived) or a new national residence permit. Both are renewable after 5 years and guarantee ‘almost’ the same rights as EU/Greek citizens.

        Healthcare and social security

        The law also provides for temporary measures regarding healthcare coverage in case of no deal – UK citizens and their family members legally residing in Greece before the withdrawal date, ‘will continue to enjoy healthcare benefits (in public hospitals and for public health services) from withdrawal date until the end of 2019, as before’ but promises further legislation upon withdrawal dependent on EU directives and reciprocity with the UK.

        Potential issues with Greek Brexit legislation – lack of detail.

        The Greek government has been quick to reassure UK nationals that they will be able to carry on with their lives as before but many of the crucial details in the no-deal legislation are missing, although we are promised further updates. Therefore,  at the moment :

        We are not sure what the requirements will be for obtaining the new permits or indeed the difference between the two types. The Brexit website uses both ‘exchange with’ and ‘apply for’ the new biometric permits. So will it be an exchange with our present EU permits with no further paperwork involved beyond that which we have already provided? Or an application on possibly more stringent terms than the paperwork which we have already provided to get our existing permits?
        The Brexit website states that ‘UK citizens will be asked to justify having resided in Greece before withdrawal date according to the following grounds of right of residence: exercise a professional activity, have sufficient resources for oneself and one’s family as well as health insurance, study or follow a vocational training and have health insurance’. Does this mean we will have to meet new minimum income and health insurance requirements retroactively? Similarly, the Greek no-deal legislation states that in order to get the EU long term permits UK nationals will have to meet the requirements as set out in specific laws concerning third country nationals with integration requirements waived. Can we assume then that the other requirements for TCNs of minimum income per annum and health insurance will stand? If a UK national is not be able to meet these requirements would their application be automatically rejected or would they be allowed to stay to attempt to meet these requirements in the future? Would there be any form of appeal if their appllication is rejected?
        There are no details about what will happen to the healthcare of those who have not paid into Greek state health insurance after December 2019. Greek law at present allows all those legally resident in Greece access to free basic state healthcare regardless. However, this could easily change with the next government.
        We do not know the cost of the new permits.
        The biometric permits have to be renewed every five years. Will this be an automatic renewal or will we have to provide further paperwork?
        The transition period  allows for applications for Greek citizenship up until the end of the transition period. However in most areas the waiting list is at least four years and the integration requirements (linguistic and cultural) might be beyond the abilities of the average UK retiree.
        Main causes for concern as reported by our members

        Possible minimum income requirements to acquire new biometric cards.
        Health care and in particular the continuation of S1 provision for pensioners. Many pensioners are too old to qualify for private healthcare.
        Continued uprating of UK pensions.
        Reciprocal recognition of pension contributions.  Aggregate pension rights.
        Continued access to Greek benefits.
        Greek driving licences. Many have been left in limbo for months upon attempting to switch and are unable to rent a car for example. Professional categories on UK licence are often dropped on Greek licences.
        Voting rights. Many have been disenfranchised in the UK by the 15 year rule and are about to be disenfranchised from Greek political life too.
        Continued access for children with British citizenship who have never lived in the UK to UK  universities with home fees and student loans.
        Access to NHS healthcare if forced to return to the UK. Rights of Greek family members who wish to reside in the UK if forced to return with their relatives.
        Rights and responsibilities of British citizens with property both in the UK and Greece who have been advised by the British Embassy to choose Britain as a main residence but also want to spend over 90 days in any 180 in Greece post-Brexit.
        Freedom of movement
        Cross border services
        What will be the status of yacht owners and their vessels in Greek waters?

        Political instability


        Greece will hold a general election on 7/7 in which the present government is likely to be unseated and be replaced by a more right wing one. How will this affect the Greek government’s attitude to resident UK nationals and the no-deal legislation?


        The possible extension of the UK hostile immigration policy to resident Greek nationals would have a direct affect on  the status of UK nationals in Greece. As the UK political scene seems to be marching ever further to the right, a future erosion of our reciprocal rights is more than possible.

        Concluding points

        Although the Greek government is making the right noises their legislation is lacking in detail.
        Political instability on both sides is compounding anxiety and uncertainty.
        The British Embassy seems unable or unwilling to liaise with the Greek government and is therefore unable contribute to the debate or to protect the rights of UK nationals resident in Greece in a no-deal scenario.
        On a positive note, I have heard of no instances of discrimination from the Greek side. Greek public services have been told to treat us as EU nationals until otherwise informed and those of us registered to vote in the recent local elections were all allowed to do so.
        However, members report feeling used and abandoned by the UK and the EU. The UK side seem unaware of or uninterested in the effects of a no-deal Brexit on their emigrant populations and the EU seem unwilling to ringfence our rights as set out in the Withdrawal Agreement despite the Costa amendment. (end)

        • This topic was modified 2 years, 1 month ago by admin.
        • This topic was modified 2 years, 1 month ago by admin.
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            “Greece will hold a general election on 7/7”

            This is out of date. We now have a right-wing government which, I suspect, is probably working closely with Boris and Donald but keeping it secret so that they don’t upset the EU “presidents” (oligarchs).

            Note: I had no trouble in obtaining a Greek driving licence and I retained my UK licence until the Greek one was ready to post from Athens, at which point I had to hand it in and wait ten days for the arrival of the Greek one. I was given a printed sheet of paper to show the police in case they stopped me. This arrangement allowed me to travel to the UK with my UK licence and hire a car in the meantime.

            As for the rest – meh. Luckily my health is good, I don’t need any drugs and I’ll take it as it comes! I understand that others aren’t so lucky but please bear in mind that there is pressure from the socialists to spread fear and disinformation and the Media provides a willing accomplice. My advice is to throw away your TV set and wait a year. My gut feeling is that all will be well.

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