A Cruising Association campaign to reverse laws in Greece restricting the amount of time a yacht can remain in Greek waters has proved successful
According to the Cruising Association, boat owners with boats not registered in the European Union can now stay in Greece for longer than six months, in accordance with EU law. The Cruising Association had campaigned against a six-month time limit, unilaterally imposed by the Greek government in August 2014 in contratodiction of EU-wide rules on temporary importation
The EU-wide rules allow non-EU flagged yachts to stay in EU waters (including Greece) for up to 18 months, and this can be extended to 24 months on application. The EU rules specify no minimum time that a yacht must leave EU waters before returning for another 18 months, although proof of having left EU waters may be required of course.
The Greek goverment had replaced these laws with a rule that allowed non-EU flagged yachts to remain in Greek waters for only six in every 12 months. The Cruising Association reports that it immediately protested through their contacts in the Greek government that this action was illegal under EU law.
A general election in Greece in January 2015 interfered with this dialogue. When the situation remained the same by April this year, the CA lodged a formal complaint with the European Commission on the grounds that Greece’s action was illegal and would seriously impact yachting tourism in Greece.
In early September 2015 the European Commission advised the CA that the Greek government had agreed to return to the EU-wide rules on temporary importation of yachts. A copy of the Greek Ministerial Directive implementing this was forwarded to the CA. The stated date for implementation was 1 October 2015. However, a second Greek election in late September 2015 occurred before the Ministerial Directive could become law.
Despite these hold ups, the CA reports that their members have experienced port police in Greece already implementing the directive, suggesting that it has been published in some form.
A Cruising Association statement said that, ‘Our policy of engaging with the Greek government whilst insisting that international agreements must be observed has again produced positive results for all cruising sailors.’