Even though all the countries you mention are within the EEC, a quick word of caution as you are heading towards the Med. If you buy a boat and pay VAT on it and then take it outside the EEC, you have a limited period of time to return it to the EEC or you have to pay VAT again. I donít remember if it is two or three years but worth keeping in mind.
As far as the boats are concerned, I wondered how Southerly, a semi custom, lifting keel ended up amongst the mass-produced boats. The 42 and above are much better sailing boats than the, errr, shorter Southerlys but they all hold their value quite well.
Bavaria is usually the low price leader (for comparable length/equipment) and along with Jeanneau/Beneteau and to a less extant Elan and Dufour supplies most of the boats in the charter fleets. Moody and Dehler are both owner by Hanse. Moody uses the Hanse hull with different styling. All are decent coastal cruisers.
If you want something of better quality, IMHO Arcona and Hallberg-Rassy are class acts amongst the European production boats. Arcona is more performance oriented than Hallberg-Rassy, while Hallberg-Rassy is what you might prefer to be in if crossing the Bay of Biscay on a windy day (think Range Rover). If you wanted a seaworthy boat that can also float in a puddle, as well as Southerly, you might consider an Ovni. Also Comfortina? Island-Packet? I would suspect J and X boats to be too race oriented than your focus. And there are others that donít come to mind straight away, especially if you start looking at the small manufacturers.
Once you think you know what you want, try posting here and on other boards for opinions. And try to charter one - you find out much more by sailing for a week than you can on a demo sail. You can charter most boats if you look hard enough and the dealers also usually know where to look.
Gosh, Iíve rambled on.
Boats are usually bought with the heart, not the head. Good luck and have fun looking Ė Iím jealous.