Post from the British in Greece group - OVERVIEW OF GREEK DRAFT LAW in case of No Deal Brexit
Copy of British in Greece - overview, no-deal legislation and issues as requested by Jane Golding, chair of the British in Europe Coalition.
BRITISH IN GREECE Julia Cross.OVERVIEW
According to government statistics there are 24,000 registered UK nationals in Greece but it's estimated there are many more who haven't registered. Greek law states that EU citizens must register after 90 days to get a Registration Certificate, which can be upgraded after proving five years continuous residence to a Permanent Registration Certificate. Registration requirements are easy to meet and I've never heard of anyone being refused, although we do have to provide many people with help for the process.
Two months ago the Greek Minister for Foreign Affairs responded to Jeremy Hunt's request for information with a widely circulated letter confirming that UK nationals resident in Greece are welcome and that their rights will be maintained. The Greek government has its eye on the 80,000 Greeks resident in the UK and the three million British tourists who visit Greece every year therefore reciprocity and maintaining visa free movement is a priority for them. They have set up a Brexit website and fast track no-deal legislation was published on 26/3/2019. However, their website has not as yet been updated with details of the legislation so all we have to work with is their Gazette, which is inevitably written in dense legal language. Nor has an interpretation of the legislation been published anywhere as far as I'm aware.
The British Embassy have been active in organising Outreach meetings across Greece and setting up their own information pages. As a representative of British in Greece, I wrote to the Ambassador a few months ago expressing our concerns at the lack of information from the Greek government for a no-deal situation and received a reply saying they are working with the Greek government at the highest levels to protect our rights. They requested that all correspondence be shared with the British in Greece members. I'm not in contact as yet with the Citizens' Rights Officer but I'm tracking them down.
GREEK NO DEAL LEGISLATION
(caveat - I'm not a lawyer and this is my personal interpretation)
Transition period. In the no-deal legislation we are given a transition period until December 2020 during which free movement and rights of residence will continue for all UK nationals in Greece according to Greek law 106/2007 (A' 135). Neither our entry nor our exit from Greece will be recorded. We will be allowed to apply for a registration certificate as an EU citizen up to this date. In other words we retain our rights as EU citizens in most respects during the transition period (however reciprocal health coverage will lapse after 12/19). Residence permits.
Both kinds of EU residence permits will be valid until December 2020. Two months before December 2020 those with over 5 years legal residence as an EU citizen will apply for a new national residence permit which will be renewed automatically every 5 years allowing us to retain rights similar to those enjoyed by EU citizens. An alternative will be to apply for the long term residence permit for third country nationals as allowed by EU law. Those who haven't reached the five year mark can apply for a three year national permit which will be renewed at three years until they reach the five year mark. This permit will also allow similar rights to an EU citizen. Newcomers (and those of us who haven't registered) will be able to register as EU citizens up until December 2020.
Post transition period. As of January 2021, all UK nationals without residence permits will be subject to Greek immigration laws governing Third Country Nationals (425'/2014 A' 80). Among a whole raft of other restrictions, these include no stays of longer than 90 days in any 180 days. However, UK nationals with the relevant residence permits will retain their free movement into Greece and rights of residence and will NOT have their entry into the country recorded.
POTENTIAL ISSUES Non-registration.
There are an unknown number of UK nationals who haven't registered. Reasons include ignorance of the requirement, procrastination, anxiety about the paperwork, anxiety about residence and tax implications, inability to understand that the law applies to them (I have property / a Greek spouse / pay tax here so I'll be OK), embarrassment because they've put it off so long already, a sense of entitlement (I'm British and the Greeks love me so the rules don't apply to me), a Leaver mentality (nothing will change, it won't affect me, it's Remainer scaremongering) and stupidity (on having the 90 in 180 day rule explained answers I've been travelling through Europe for decades with just my British passport so I won't need a residence permit).
Possible resolution British in Greece members are generally well-informed, as are the members of other more formal sites such as 'BRIG Brits Remain in Greece' and 'Living in Crete', but we're keeping an eye on the more informal FB pages like 'I want to live in Crete' and 'Foreigners living in Greece' to try and reach the unregistered, and many of our recent members have followed our link from these sites. I'm also asking every member to spread the word especially to those UK nationals who might be isolated. No-deal legislation
To acquire the new permanent 5 year permit, the legislation refers to the requirements governing third country nationals. If I am correct this means we will have to show tax returns for the previous 5 years of a yearly income of at least the minimum wage (about 7,800 euros per annum). This means some people are in danger of being refused, especially as we have just been through a massive financial crisis and many UK nationals are scraping by on undeclared, uninsured part time work just like the Greek population. We will also have to prove health insurance and undergo a criminal check but assimilation requirements have been waived. The cards cost 150 euros for a five year one and 900 euros for the 10 year one given to spouses of Greek citizens. We do not know whether we will have to pay, although the pessimistic would say it seems likely as it will be a good revenue stream for a cash strapped Greek government. They say that the cards will be renewed 'automatically' every five years using a specific legal word in Greek (αυτοδίκαια) but I'm not sure what that means in practice. Will we have to provide documentation to renew?
Possible resolution Contacting the CRO at the British Embassy to request legal advice whilst hoping that we won't go to no-deal. Keeping in touch with the admins of other countries to compare their no-deal legislation. Contacting the Greek government directly is not an option because they never reply unless you do it through a personal contact (will explore this if things get really bad). Health insurance
Like all UK nationals there is much anxiety in British in Greece about health insurance especially among UK pensioners and those who have been using the EHIC card as coverage. This concerns not just health care but also providing documentation for residence permits.
Possible resolution Greek emergency legislation from 2016 provides basic health insurance to all uninsured Greek and (legally resident) foreign citizens in order to help ride the worst effects of the financial crisis, which left many people unemployed and without health care. I've shown the members how to access this insurance but it's not a permanent solution as the law could change at any time reverting to medical care only if you pay into the system. Hoping for reciprocal agreements.
British in Greece Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/313197395758514/