According to Article 15 of WA, United Kingdom nationals, and their respective family members, who have resided legally in Greece in accordance with Union law for a continuous period of 5 years or for the period specified in Article 17 of Directive 2004/38/EC, have the right to reside permanently in Greece under the conditions set out in Articles 16, 17 and 18 of Directive 2004/38/EC. Periods of legal residence or work in accordance with Union law before and after the end of the transition period are included in the calculation of the qualifying period necessary for acquisition of the right of permanent residence. Continuity of residence for the purposes of acquisition of the right of permanent residence is determined in accordance with Article 16(3) and Article 21 of Directive 2004/38/EC. Once acquired, the right of permanent residence shall be lost only through absence from the host State for a period exceeding 5 consecutive years.
Legal residence under Union law refers to residence in accordance with the conditions of Directive 2004/38/EC. According to article 25 of the Directive 2004/38/EC, p ossession of a registration certificate as referred to in Article 8, of a document certifying permanent residence, of a certificate attesting submission of an application for a family member residence card, of a residence card or of a permanent residence card, may under no circumstances be made a precondition for the exercise of a right or the completion of an administrative formality, as entitlement to rights may be attested by any other means of proof.
As regards continuity of non-permanent residence, Article 15(2) of the Agreement refers to continuity of residence being determined in accordance with Article 16(3) and Article 21 of Directive 2004/38/EC. While Article 16(3) of Directive 2004/38/EC is designed for the purposes of checking the continuity of lawful residence for the purposes of acquiring the right of permanent residence, the same rules apply to residence under the Agreement generally – beneficiaries of the Agreement can be absent for some time without breaking the continuity of their right of residence in Greece. This means that continuity of residence is not affected by the following temporary absences:
1.absences not exceeding a total of six months a year;
2.absences of a longer duration for compulsory military service (there is no time limit); or
3.by one absence of a maximum of twelve consecutive months for important reasons, such as (a)pregnancy and childbirth;(b)serious illness;(c)study or vocational training; or(d) a posting abroad.
The list is not exhaustive and any reason is taken into account, which, demonstrably, makes the absence of the person concerned necessary or unavoidable.
Article 16 of the Agreement complements Article 15 by covering the situation where the beneficiaries of the Agreement have not yet acquired the right of permanent residence before the end of the transition period. The period of legal residence in accordance with Union free movement rules that a person has before the end of the transition period will be counted for the completion of the period of residence of 5 years necessary to acquire the right of permanent residence. Article 16 confers on such beneficiaries the right to acquire permanent residence status later (after accumulating the sufficient period of legal residence).
The right of permanent residence acquired before the end of the transition period to which Article 11 of the Agreement refers should be understood as right of permanent residence under Union law (Articles 16(1) or (2) of Directive 2004/38/EC) that determines whether one is eligible to become beneficiary of the Agreement.