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 month period 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 and 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. However, Downing Street has 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.
‘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.