Why UK-loving Greeks are in limbo after the Brexit vote

What kind of changes will the Brexit bring for the Greeks working, residing, studying and travelling often to the UK?

Yorva Tsiakara

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Voters have voted in favor of the Brexit. Although the result of the referendum does not represent a formal notification of the exit of Britain, everyone has started worrying about what happens when Britain leaves the EU. I tried to think the of issue from the view of my homeland, Greece.

Walking down the streets of London, the times I heard people speaking my own language has shocked me on several occasions. I remember the times where I could gossip in Greek with my friends from home, as “nobody would understand us”. This benefit we had was lost around 2011, when a huge wave of Greeks migrated to the UK.

Of course the Greeks will always be Greeks... I often spot them strolling around West London on the weekends, dancing the Greek way on Friday nights at the all-time classic Greek “bouzoukia” spot near Fitzrovia. I see them lazily sipping their freddo cappuccinos on Sunday mornings at an infamous Greek café-restaurant near Tottenham Court Road tube station. But truth be told, I am also genuinely proud of them, as I often hear about their determination in their different professional paths, their recognition as scientists and their successes in the business world.

Fortune Magazine named the UK as “Greece’s new promised land” in an article in 2015, in which it was pointed out how Greece is losing its intellectually talented people to the UK. In 2011, 33,500 Greeks, forming 5.8 percent of the Greek student population, were studying abroad, while 36.1 percent of them were studying in the UK.

Here are the questions that Greeks working, residing, studying and travelling often to the UK will be asking following the Brexit:

1. Will I be able to move to the UK?
2. Will I be able to continue residing in the UK?
3. Will I be able to travel in the UK as easily as I used to?
4. Will I be able to study in the UK from now on?
5. Will I be still included in the EE category regarding my university fees?
6. Will I need to be sponsored in ordered to work in the UK from now on?

The now-infamous Article 50 of the EU Lisbon treaty went into effect in 2009 and outlines the process for a country to leave the Union.

The article is five sections long and holds the key to the UK and Europe’s future and how it will be interpreted by both sides will make a world of difference. Each member state will have their say in what is going to happen, from agriculture, to financial markets, to immigration.

But nothing will change yet, the UK has still has two years to negotiate its exit, unless all member states agree to extend or shorten that deadline. News of the Brexit has sparked fears of further fractures for Greece, and I’m wondering how much more change this country can take?

This article was first published here.

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