'Our dream of long hot summers is over'

‘Our dream of long hot summers is over’: Couple who bought two-bedroom property on Greek island of Syros are among half a million Britons facing holiday home headache after Brexit

  • David Young  and his wife Stephanie bought their Syros home two years ago
  • He said their ‘hopes of long hot summers’ at their house are over
  • Britons will be limited to a maximum of 90 days in most European countries

Boris Johnson has given short shrift to Britons with holiday homes in Europe whose stays will be restricted under post-Brexit EU rules.

From next month, UK nationals will be limited to a maximum of 90 days in any six months in most European countries without a visa or residency permit.

The rule will affect the estimated half a million British citizens with properties on the Continent.

David Young, an award-winning novelist  bought a two-bedroom home on the Greek island of Syros with his wife Stephanie two years ago

Campaigners are calling on ministers to intervene in the hope that Brussels will relax the restrictions.

They are asking that the limit be changed to 180 days in any 12 months, which would give more flexibility including the ability to stay for a longer period on any one trip – such as through the summer.

But Downing Street yesterday dismissed the issue as a consequence of leaving the EU.

Asked if Mr Johnson is sympathetic to the plight of the holiday home owners and whether he will lobby the EU on their behalf, his spokesman said: ‘The Prime Minister has been clear on the fact we are leaving the European Union and what that entails in terms of bringing back control of our money, borders and laws.’

Holiday home owners have complained that they are being treated worse than EU citizens, who are able to stay in the UK for up to six months without needing a visa.

Earlier this year, Cabinet Office Minister Penny Mordaunt ruled out seeking an exemption from the EU rule.

In response to a parliamentary question, she wrote: ‘The Government is not seeking to agree specific mobility arrangements for owners of a second home.’ Campaign group 180 Days Visa Free has been calling on the Government to persuade the EU to change the rules.

Earlier this year they wrote to MPs: ‘The Schengen 90/180 day rule will severely limit the rights of UK citizens to access their property assets at times of their choosing.

The view from the couple’s home in the Greek island of Syros

‘Many people spend one long period in the summer in their house in Europe and also visit at other times. The 90/180 rule will prevent this. 

‘For example, if you spend July and August in the Schengen area, then visits will have to be limited to less than four weeks between March and June and less than four weeks between September and Christmas.’

The UK Government guidance on the rules state: ‘From January 1, 2021, you will be able to travel to other Schengen area countries for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa for purposes such as tourism.  

‘This is a rolling 180-day period. To stay for longer, to work or study, or for business travel, you will need to meet the entry requirements set out by the country to which you are travelling.

‘This could mean applying for a visa or work permit. You may also need to get a visa if your visit would take you over the 90 days in 180 days limit. 

‘Periods of stay authorised under a visa or permit will not count against the 90-day limit.’ 

David Young, an award-winning novelist, bought a two-bedroom home on the Greek island of Syros with his wife Stephanie two years ago.

Boris Johnson has given short shrift to Britons with holiday homes in Europe whose stays will be restricted under post-Brexit EU rules

Last night he said the rules mean their ‘hopes of long hot summers’ at their house will be severely curtailed.

He added: ‘All we’re asking for is reciprocity. The irony is that post-Brexit, EU citizens will be able to spend up to six months at a time in the UK.

‘The only solution is to apply for residency, but that comes with a minimum 183-day stay requirement. It’s a horrible Catch 22 situation – many owners have ties in the UK they just can’t sever, so they can’t opt for full residency.’

 4 weeks to go… and UK still not ready    

By Deputy Political Editor

Channel crossings are at ‘risk of serious disruption and delay’ next month when the Brexit transition period ends, MPs warned yesterday.

In a scathing assessment of the way ministers have planned for leaving the customs union, the Commons public accounts committee questioned the UK’s level of preparedness.

The cross-party MPs said, with just four weeks to go, they did not believe the necessary systems are in place whether or not a deal is reached with Brussels.

The MPs stated: ‘There are still significant risks to the country being ready for the end of the transition period on December 31, 2020, but Government still only seems to be taking limited responsibility for that readiness.

‘Industry bodies have said that Government has not provided key information needed by businesses to prepare, such as detailed guidance on how to apply for simplified customs procedures.’

Yesterday Rod McKenzie, of the Road Haulage Association, said: ‘The best case scenario is it will be shambolic. The worst case scenario is it will be catastrophic.’

British and EU negotiators are continuing discussions in London on a post-Brexit trade deal.

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove yesterday hit out at Brussels for trying to take the ‘lion’s share’ of British fish stocks as talks go ‘down to the wire’.

Mr Gove urged businesses to be ready for the deadline whether a last-minute deal is struck or not.

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