Award-winning crime novelist David Young is leading a last-ditch campaign by British second-home and boat owners calling on the government to allow the former European Union citizens to spend up to six months in Greece at any one time.
Because of Brexit, unless the rules change, British visitors will only be able to spend 90 days in a row in Greece or any other EU country from January 1, 2021 under the Schengen arrangement. After that, they will have to leave for a similar amount of time.
Young, who has a house on Syros, said in a written statement that this is unfair to British owners who bought their properties and boats while they had free movement as EU citizens: “We realize it is the Brexit decision that has caused this – but we invested in Greece in good faith; many of us did not vote for Brexit and vehemently oppose it. We hope the Greek government will act unilaterally to help us by granting us special permits or visas allowing us to spend up to 180 days at a time in Greece.” This would reciprocate the amount of time Greeks and other EU citizens are allowed to spend in the UK.
The campaign group, whose Facebook page is called “180 Days in Greece,” says that after informal contacts with politicians close to the government, it gets the impression it may be sympathetic to the campaign’s aims. There have also been indications that Portugal is preparing to allow visits of up to 180 days, according to Young.
“Limiting the time owners can spend in Greece will hurt the Greek economy too,” Young said: “Many British people like to spend up to six months at a time in Greece – some in summer, some in winter – and that helps extend the Greek tourist season in areas with high British ownership. That brings in money to shops, tavernas, marinas and other businesses.”
“It almost seems like we’re going backwards in time to those dark days of the Berlin Wall, where one of the biggest complaints of East Germans was that they couldn’t travel to the West. Now the UK seems to want to build its own new wall in the middle of the English Channel,” argued the British writer.
“All we want is a meeting with the Greek government to try to convince them of our case. Obviously, it has many more important things to deal with, but we hope they can find the time to talk to us and adjust the rules,” Young stated.