Voters have voted in favor of Brexit. Although the result of the referendum does not represent a formal notification of the exit of Britain off the European Union, everyone has started worrying about what happens when Britain leaves the EU. I tried to think the issue from a Greek point of view.
Walking down the streets of London, the times I heard people speaking my own language has literally scared me many times. 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 the 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 at their different professional paths, their recognition as scientists and their successes as businessmen.
Only in 2001, the UK Census recorded 35,169 British residents born in Greece. Greeks represent a huge part in Britain’s workforce. 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. Only in 2011, 33,500 Greeks, forming the 5,8 percent of the Greek student population, were studying abroad, while 36,1 percent of them are studying in the UK. According to an article by the Guardian published in 2012, David Cameron threatened to prepare halt immigrations of Greeks into the UK. Did this plan ended up being successful?
What kind of changes will the Brexit bring for the Greeks working, residing, studying and travelling often to the UK?
- Will I be able to move to the UK?
- Will I be able to continue residing in the UK?
- Will I be able to travel in the UK as easily as I used to?
- Will I be able to study in the UK from now on?
- Will I be still included in the EE category regarding my University fees?
- Will I need to be sponsored in ordered to work in the UK from now on?
The, now famous, 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 hold the key to the UK’s and Europe’s future and ho 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 about everything, every single subject from agriculture, to financial markets, to immigration. The negotiations will be very complex and will take about two years.
Hold your horses for now; nothing changes yet, as the UK has two years to negotiate its exit, unless all state members agree to extent that deadline. The Brexit news have caused fears of further fractures for Greece, and I’m wondering how much more change can this country take? But for now the only sure thing about the Brexit is that no one knows what exactly is going to happen!