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