Jar­gon buster Know your EFTA from your EEA – and other EUcronyms

The Guardian - - NATIONAL BREXIT - Key phrases that will re­cur through­out the Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions: Ac­quis com­mu­nau­taire Ar­ti­cle 50 Cit­i­zens’ rights Cus­toms union Euro­pean coun­cil Euro­pean com­mis­sion Euro­pean court of jus­tice EEA/EFTA Four free­doms Free trade agree­ment (FTA) Great re­peal bi

The en­tire body of Euro­pean law: all the treaties, reg­u­la­tions and di­rec­tives passed by EU in­sti­tu­tions, plus all the rul­ings of the Euro­pean court of jus­tice. Ev­ery mem­ber state has in­cor­po­rated the ac­quis into its 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 rights and pro­tec­tions of­fered to all EU cit­i­zens un­der EU law, in­clud­ing free move­ment and res­i­dence and a wide range of other rights re­lated to work, ed­u­ca­tion, so­cial se­cu­rity and health. 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 is one of the gov­ern­ment’s Brexit goals. The Euro­pean coun­cil, headed by Don­ald Tusk, is the gath­er­ing of heads of state or gov­ern­ment that sets strate­gic goals. The com­mis­sion, headed by JeanClaude Juncker, is of­ten called the EU’s civil ser­vice, but is more than that; its 28 mem­ber-ap­pointed com­mis­sion­ers for­mally ini­ti­ate EU leg­is­la­tion. The ECJ rules on dis­putes over EU treaties and leg­is­la­tion; cases can be brought by gov­ern­ments, EU in­sti­tu­tions, com­pa­nies or cit­i­zens. 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 the 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 so they 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. An agree­ment be­tween at least two coun­tries to co­op­er­ate on re­duc­ing trade bar­ri­ers such as im­port quo­tas and tar­iffs to in­crease the trade of goods and some­times ser­vices be­tween them. 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 the day af­ter Bri­tain leaves. 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 end its obli­ga­tions to re­spect the four free­doms, make big EU budget pay­ments and ac­cept ECJ ju­ris­dic­tion. The UK’s out­stand­ing fi­nan­cial com­mit­ments – the “exit bill” or “di­vorce set­tle­ment”. Defin­ing it could be a big is­sue. 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 the phys­i­cal and tech­ni­cal bar­ri­ers (bor­ders and di­ver­gent prod­uct stan­dards) too 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, 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 prob­a­bly re­quire con­ces­sions on free move­ment, ECJ ju­ris­dic­tion and budget pay­ments. An agree­ment de­signed to bridge the po­ten­tially lengthy gap be­tween the end of ar­ti­cle 50 talks, when Bri­tain leaves the EU, and the start of a fu­ture FTA. With­out an FTA, trade be­tween Bri­tain and the EU would hap­pen un­der the rules of the World Trade Or­gan­i­sa­tion. This could be ex­pen­sive – for ex­am­ple, the WTO tar­iff on cars would be 9.8%, and on lamb 40%.

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