UK ambassador hails clarification on Britons’ rights after Brexit

British Ambassador to Athens Kate Smith on Tuesday hailed a letter sent earlier in the day by Greek Foreign Minister Giorgos Katrougalos to his UK counterpart, Jeremy Hunt, vowing to safeguard the rights of Britons living in Greece after Brexit.

“Delighted that the Greek Government has confirmed that in the event of no deal the rights of UK nationals already living in Greece will be fully recognized and guaranteed, in line with the reciprocity offered by the UK to EU citizens,” Smith said in a post on Twitter on Tuesday.

In the letter, Katrougalos described the UK nationals currently living in Greece as “an important bridge of friendship between our two countries,” stressing that they are always “welcome.”

“Their rights will be fully recognized and safeguarded,” the letter said, adding that fast-track legislation is in the works to ensure that UK citizens residing in Greece “can remain in the country and continue to live, study and work here, as well as to enjoy social security and healthcare benefits” in the event that Britain leaves the European Union on March 29.

Katrougalos added that legislation is also been drafted for UK citizens who settle in Greece after Brexit.

Letter from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, G. Katrougalou, to his British counterpart, J. Hunt, on the protection of citizens ‘ rights after the departure of the United. Kingdom by the EU (15.02.19)

«Athens, 15/2/2019

Dear colleague,

Thank you for your letter of 23 January 2019 on the protection of citizens ‘ rights following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
The UK has been a key and valuable partner of Greece within the EU family and its absence will be truly noticeable. However, we respect the decision of the British people and are ready to continue developing our strategic partnership in all areas of mutual interest. In this context, we welcome the position of the United Kingdom government that the UK is leaving the EU but not from Europe.

We believe that the severance agreement is the only way to ensure a coordinated and contingency-free withdrawal, as well as legal certainty for both public authorities and citizens and businesses. The severance agreement can also fully ensure the protection of our citizens ‘ rights which remains a top priority of both our countries.

For this reason, we strongly supported, during the negotiations on the withdrawal agreement, the adoption of a more generous approach to safeguarding the rights of EU and UK citizens as well as family members Their. In the UK live a significant Greek community as in Greece numerous British community and we hope that both will continue to enjoy fully the benefits and privileges they had before leaving. That is why we strongly support the need to ratify the withdrawal agreement before 29 March 2019.

However, ratification remains uncertain and we are forced to prepare ourselves for the possibility of an exit scenario without agreement, in close cooperation with the EU and other Member States. In this case too, the primary priority is citizens ‘ rights and our goal is to ensure that both Greeks and British citizens who choose to live, study and work in the UK and Greece respectively, they will continue to do so unhindered and will enjoy fully, if not the same, rights they enjoyed before leaving.

We welcome the UK Government communications on the use of the EU plan for European citizens (acquisition of resident status) in the event of non-agreement and the clarity and legal certainty provided for all Categories of EU citizens.

Dear Mr. Secretary of State and Commonwealth of the United Kingdom, Jeremy Hunt,

Let me assure you in this respect that the British citizens who are already living in Greece are welcome and enjoy our appreciation, and they are an important bridge of friendship between our two countries. Their rights will be recognised and guaranteed in full, in line with the reciprocity provided by the UK to EU citizens. Our state agencies are working without delay to draw up fast-track bills that will be voted on in time before 29 March 2019 and will enable British citizens and their family members who are already living In Greece before the retirement date (29 March 2019), stay in the country and continue to live, study and work and enjoy social security and health care benefits. As far as the latter is concerned, the purpose of the proposal for a regulation under discussion at EU level is to draw up an emergency plan for failure to reach agreement, in particular for the coordination of Social security systems following the withdrawal of Uk.
The aim of our national legislation is also to provide provisions for the categories of citizens who will arrive in Greece after the departure date (29.3.2019). I have already consulted with my colleagues, the ministers responsible, and I intend to make a public announcement shortly. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in close coordination with all other State institutions and services, remains at the disposal of the British Embassy in Athens and your government services.

I look forward to continuing and strengthening our excellent cooperation in the various areas linking our two countries and I hope to meet in the near future.


Giorgos Katrougalos»

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