Brexit phrasebook: a guide to the talks’ key terms – The Guardian
The entire body of European laws: all the treaties, regulations and directives passed by the EU’s institutions, plus all the rulings of the European court of justice (see below). Every member state has incorporated the acquis into their legal system.
The formal mechanism for exiting the EU: the clause in the 2007 Lisbon treaty that allows any member state “to withdraw from the union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements”. The two-year article 50 negotiations, which among other things must settle citizens’ rights, the question of the Irish border and the UK’s exit bill, are in effect the divorce talks.
The rights and protections offered to all EU citizens under EU law, including free movement and residence, equal treatment and a wide range of other rights related to work, education, social security and health. Read more
The consequence of leaving the EU, its single market and customs union without a future trade deal lined up. This could mean big tariffs on some UK exports, British goods no longer accredited for sale on the continent, planes grounded, lengthy customs checks at ports and administrative and legal chaos.
EU members – plus Turkey, Andorra, Monaco and San Marino – trade without customs duties, taxes or tariffs between themselves, and charge the same tariffs on imports from outside the EU. Customs union members cannot negotiate their own trade deals outside the EU, which is why leaving it – while hopefully negotiating a bespoke arrangement – has been one of the government’s Brexit goals.
European council/European commission
The European council, headed by Donald Tusk, is the gathering of heads of state or government that sets the bloc’s priorities and strategic goals. The commission, headed by Jean-Claude Juncker, is often called the EU’s civil service but is more than that. Its 28 member-appointed commissioners formally initiate EU legislation.
European court of justice (ECJ)
The Luxembourg-based ECJ rules on disputes over EU treaties and legislation. Cases can be brought by governments, EU institutions, companies or citizens. Leaving the ECJ’s jurisdiction has been one of the government’s requirements for Brexit.
The European Economic Area is made up of the EU’s single market, plus three European Free Trade Association members – Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. They trade freely with the single market in exchange for accepting its rules. Switzerland is in EFTA but not the EEA. Bilateral accords give it special access to the single market. The four EFTA countries are not in the customs union, and can negotiate trade deals with third countries such as China.
The fundamental pillars of the EU’s single market: free movement of goods, capital, services and people.
Free trade agreement (FTA)
Typically long and complex to negotiate, an FTA is an agreement between at least two countries to cooperate on reducing trade barriers such as import quotas and tariffs so as to increase the trade of goods and sometimes services between them. An FTA between the UK and the EU will define the two parties’ future relationship after the divorce under article 50.
Great repeal bill
A piece of legislation that will transpose, at a stroke, all existing EU legislation affecting Britain into domestic UK law to avoid a legal black hole and prevent disruption the day after Britain leaves. The British parliament is then meant to “amend, repeal and improve” each law as necessary – a gargantuan task.
A hard Brexit would take Britain out of the EU’s single market and customs union and ends its obligations to respect the four freedoms, make big EU budget payments and accept the jurisdiction of the ECJ – what Brexiters mean by “taking back control” of Britain’s borders, laws and money. It would mean a return of trade tariffs, depending on what, if any FTA was agreed.
Like “cliff edge”, except worse. No deal implies slamming the door on the article 50 talks, which would make the prospect of a future FTA extremely remote. The chaos that would ensue is difficult to exaggerate.
Reste à liquider
This is the the sum of the UK’s outstanding financial commitments – those which have been agreed to in past EU budget negotiations, but have not yet translated into payments. Defining this amount – the UK’s exit bill or divorce settlement – could be a major issue in the article 50 talks.
The EU’s single market is more than a free-trade area. It aims to remove not just the fiscal barriers to trade – tariffs – but also the physical and technical barriers – borders and divergent product standards – by allowing as free movement as possible of goods, capital, services and people. In essence, it is about treating the EU as a single trading territory.
A soft Brexit, which not officially defined, would keep Britain in either the single market or the customs union or both. It could be achieved along the lines of the Norway model – see EEA/EFTA – or via an FTA, but would require concessions on free movement, ECJ jurisdiction and budget payments. Brexiters do not consider a soft Brexit as really leaving the EU.
An agreement designed to bridge the potentially lengthy gap between the end of article 50 talks, when the UK leaves the EU, and the start of a future FTA. Both sides recognise such a deal may be necessary – the UK calls it an “implementation phase” – to avoid the cliff edge outlined above, but agreeing terms could be difficult. The EU wants it to be as short and sharp as possible.
Without an FTA, trade between the UK and the EU would happen under the rules of the 164-member World Trade Organisation. This could be expensive – for example the WTO tariff on cars would be 9.8%, and on lamb 40% – and might also raise major practical and logistical problems around things such as product approval and customs checks.