Having lived in Greece for 20 years, I never thought to see the day when my right of residence would disappear overnight. Technically I had lived here illegally for 18 of those 20 years because I had never applied for a residence permit which is a Greek requirement, not a European one.
I decided to become legal two years ago because my UK driving licence was expiring and it was far less expensive and time consuming to exchange it for a Greek licence. To do that I needed a residence permit and to get a residence permit I needed to join the Greek NHS and abandon my rights in the UK.
I then experienced at first hand how appallingly Greeks are treated by their bureaucracy which will create every obstacle, legal or illegal, to try and prevent any application being successful. The first step in the game is to tell each applicant that they have not brought correct papers and they must go away, obtain them and come back and queue for another day. The queue starts at 6 a.m. so that early arrivals will get a number which will ensure that they do not have to queue for more than about 3 hours. For those arriving later it can be a wait of up to a full day.
Having queued with your new papers, you are then told that you do not need them, they are wrong and you need a different set of papers, so you have to go through the whole procedure again. And do not think of complaining. There is nobody to complain to. The security guards are there to ensure that you do not start shouting and screaming or taking your clothes off in frustration.
The residence permit was easy. It had to be signed by the chief Police Officer at the aliens Bureau but he had not bothered coming in to work that day. Amazingly the lady who dealt with my application telephoned him, told him to get to the office now as his signature was required for this Englishman’s papers. He duly arrived within less than 30 minutes. She gave me a knowing smile placed my permit on his desk and he stamped and signed it. Still smiling she handed it to me. She was pleased because she had exercised power over her superior and I was delighted because I had my permit.
Getting the new driving licence was also easy as I was only told to go away once and come back with the “correct” papers.
This is all part of the European system which the UK has just voted to leave. I have lost my residence rights and my medical rights but there are far more EU expats living in the UK than there are ex pat Brits living in the EU, so it is expected that Greece and Spain for example will not be too rigid in how they deal with UK illegals and the same may go for France and Germany.
The strange thing is that I do not think I can be deported from the EU because the EU does not allow the deportation of illegal immigrants, so I am unlikely to end up in a camp in Dover. In any event my existing rights in Greece may also be protected by some obscure provisions of a previously unheard of UN charter on human rights.
If necessary I will claim my rights as an illegal immigrant. These will include free transport by train or bus from the Macedonian border to Munich ( my destination of choice), where I expect free accommodation of a reasonable standard plus all the financial benefits which the EU lavishes on its illegal immigrants. I can not be expected, as a pensioner, to obtain employment and hopefully I could still draw my state and private pensions from the UK. Prosperity looms
This morning’s European newspapers are up in arms about the mess the EU is in and are claiming to a man, for immediate root and branch reform – reforms which if the UK had been listened to would probably have avoided the need for a referendum. In other words we may have just saved Europe from the collapse which its leaders were too blind to see was about to happen.