As of January 1, trade and financial affairs between the EU and UK enter a new phase following Britain’s departure from the Union.
Although terms and conditions for operational ties between the two entities are laid out in the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement signed on December 30, challenges are expected in the coming year particularly in the areas of trade, road transport, customs procedures and border controls, persons and goods, as well as with regard to taxation and health.
In an effort to limit the inconvenience, the Greek government has taken several actions to facilitate among others travel between the two countries as well as study abroad programs.
A wide range of actions cover legislative and administrative needs, and provide information to citizens and businesses. A relevant law on Brexit covering these fields was tabled by Alternate Foreign Minister Militiadis Varvitsiotis on January 23, 2020.
Among others, the Greek shipping ministry has adopted an amendment that keeps on the Greek registry ships of British interests until 2024 with the possibility of extension, providing time to implement required procedures.
Greek authorities also launched Brexit.gov.gr, where British and Greek residents and businesses can find updated information concerning Brexit.
A digital information campaign on social media for British citizens in Greece is set to run from January to June. An e-conference or digital information campaign is also planned to run in January providing information and guidance to companies with regard to customs and other procedures as these are outlined in the UK-EU trade agreement.
A European Commission helpline will also be operational in the first weeks of January as are helplines operated by the foreign, citizen protection, immigration, and labor ministries to inform citizens and businesses.
Greece has repeatedly said that it aims to strengthen further its cooperation with the UK in areas of mutual interest and will continue in the post-Brexit era with bilateral consultations. In this direction, initiatives have already been taken, including immigration and defence action plans. There are also considerations on the possibility of revising the 1953 Greece-UK Education and Culture Agreement; the Greece-UK shipping agreement; and the double taxation deal.
Other issues covered by the Greek Brexit law include:
- Recognition of the right to residency for British citizens and family members who (a) have established residency in Greece up until the withdrawal date (b) will have established residency in Greece by 31 December 2020 (c) those who arrive after 1 January 2021. Also regulated are the conditions of their entry into and exit from the country.
- Coordination of British citizens’ social security and healthcare rights.
- Recognition of British driving licences in Greece and their conversion to Greek driver’s licences.
- The terms and conditions for opening and operating tourism enterprises in Greece by natural and legal persons based in the UK.
- The settlement of financial issues with special provision for the work of insurance and reinsurance companies.
- Meeting the urgent staffing needs of the Independent Authority for Public Revenue’s (AADE) customs services.
- Issues regarding the rights of natural and legal persons that may arise in the case of a no-deal Brexit and are not regulated by Union law, especially with regard to access to employment and recognition of professional and academic qualifications.
In a statement this week the Greek foreign ministry welcomed the agreement “in principle” between the European Union and the United Kingdom on the future relationship following the transitional period.
“This agreement lays the foundations for a new, strong partnership between the member states of the European Union and the United Kingdom, which remains an intrinsic part of Europe. We look forward to the implementation of the agreement and the strengthening of Greek and EU relations with the United Kingdom,” it said.