The A-Z of Brexit

It’s been more than four years since the referendum result and a full year since Boris Johnson rode to election victory on the promise of an ‘oven-ready deal’, but with two weeks left until the UK leaves the EU, there’s still no deal in  sight.

If Brexit is confusing you, our A-Z jargon-buster might help.

The A-Z of Brexit

A is for…

Acquis communautaire – A French phrase that translates into the equally vague-sounding “Community Acquis”, it simply means the entire body of European Union law, including legislation, legal acts, and court decisions. Before any country can join the EU, it must incorporate this into its own law.

Article 50 – The European Union’s exit clause. Once it is triggered, a country formally and legally signals it is leaving the European Union. The UK invoked Article 50 one year ago today, giving itself two years to exit.

Australian-style deal – The government’s way of dressing up a no-deal Brexit as something pallatable.

B is for…

Backstop – The cause of much wrangling, this is simply a safety mechanism that would stop a hard border being put in place between the UK and Ireland. Such a border could cause huge issues in Ireland, where tensions have been rife for years over Northern Ireland being part of the UK, but not having one could cause chaos when it comes to trade and customs arrangements.

Brexit – A a portmanteau combining Britain and Exit that has become the accepted shorthand for Britain exiting the European Union.

Brexit day – March 29, 2019. This is the day when the UK is due to leave the European Union.

Brexiteers – The name given to anyone in favor of leaving the EU. Sometimes also called Brexiters.

C is for…

Canada model – The EU and Canada Refers has a free-trade agreement that removes many of the trade barriers between the two. It is seen by some as a model the UK might adopt..

Common Agricultural Policy – This is an EU policy created to make sure that farmers in the EU produced enough food while maintaining a fair standard of living by providing financial support to them through a system of payments.

Customs union – This is a trade agreement under which two or more countries agree to waive import taxes, also known as tariffs, on goods from countries in the union and set a single rate for goods coming in from outside the union. Find out more by checking out What is a customs union? Why is it so important to Brexit?

D is for…

Divorce bill – Estimated to be £37 billion, this is the money the UK has in principle agreed to pay the EU to settle up its share of unpaid bills, contributions to the EU budget for 2019 and 2020, pensions for EU officials, and numerous other obligations.

E is for…

EU Withdrawal Bill – Also known as the repeal bill, this is legislation that will convert EU law into UK law, while repealing the European Communities Act, which took Britain into what was then the European Economic Community. Once these laws have been transferred, Parliament can decide which to keep and which to get rid of.

European Court of Justice (ECJ) – The EU’s highest legal authority, its decisions are binding on EU institutions and member states.

European Economic Area (EEA) – An area that covers the 28 European Union countries plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, enabling those three countries not in the EU to be part of its single market by sticking to the rules of its single market and freedom of movement for people, goods, services and money.

European Free Trade Association (EFTA) – An organisation made up of the three non-EU countries in the EEA and Switzerland, who can trade freely with the single market in return for accepting its rules. As they’re not in the EU customs union, they can negotiate trade deals other non-EU countries.

F is for…

Free-trade agreement – An agreement between countries to reduce trade barriers, including import or export taxes (tariffs) and import quotas, in order to increase trade in goods and services.

Freedom of movement – This founding EU principle enables member states’ citizens and their families to live and work in any other member state. This is the big one for those who voted ‘leave’ on grounds of immigration and ‘controlling our borders’.

Frictionless trade – Cutting tariffs, quotas, customs checks and other obstructions to make trade between the UK and the EU as easy as possible.

H is for…

Hard border – A border controlled and protected by customs officials, police, or the military.

Hard Brexit – An EU exit that would see any ties between the UK and EU dissolved.

I is for…

Irish border – The border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, which may become the only land border between the UK and the European Union and could open a new can of worms where Irish politics is concerned.

M is for…

Mandate – The government says that the British public gave it the mandate – basically, the authority – to take us out of the EU, when the 52% majority voted ‘leave’ in the referendum. See also, ‘will of the people’.

MEP – Member of the European Parliament. Amazingly, despite being one of the most vocal backers of the leave campaign, Nigel Farage has been an MEP since 1999, and picks up a good wage (and is due a tidy pension) from the EU.

N is for…

No deal Brexit – This is the scenario where the UK leaves the EU without having reached any trade agreements during negotiations.

Norway model – Brexiteers always point to the Norway model, as an example of how a European nation can operate successfully outside of the EU, as Norway has an arrangement in which it still has freedom of movement, still abides by the rules of the European Court of Justice (ECJ), but makes a smaller contribution to the EU budget, and still has access to the European Economic Area (EEA). This means Norway is subject to around 21% of EU laws, but isn’t part of the customs union, and so can set its own trade deals.

P is for…

People’s vote – The name given to a proposed second vote on the UK’s EU membership.

Passports – In a crazed bout of nostalgia, many leave-voters see the UK getting its blue passports back as a massive victory, despite the fact that the UK can have any colour passport it wants, regardless of whether or not it is in the EU.

Passporting – The arrangement under which British companies and foreign companies with bases in the UK are allowed to sell financial services across the European Union with no regulatory barriers. If UK companies can’t do this, it could have massive consequences for the UK’s finance sector.

R is for…

Remoaners – A term used by some of those who voted leave to describe anyone who complains that leaving the EU will be bad for Britain.

S is for…

Schengen area – The name given to the 26 European states, some of which aren’t EU members, that have abolished passport control at their mutual borders. The UK, along with some other EU states, are no part of the Schengen area.

Single market – This is simply how the European Union is treated as one territory with a free market in goods, money, services and people. It includes EU member states plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, that have secured access but retain some opt-outs.

Soft Brexit – A way of leaving the EU that allows the UK to stay as closely aligned to it as possible, whether by remaining in the single market or the customs union or both. Those in favour of a ‘hard’ Brexit don’t like this idea, as it might still allow EU citizens to settle in the UK with access to public services and benefits.

T is for…

Tariff – A tax or duty paid on imported goods being imported, or sometimes on exported goods.

Tariff-free trade – This is when goods are imported or exported without having any taxes or duties imposed upon them.

Transition period – A sort of grace period, to make things easier during the period between the UK leaving the European Union and the start of new trade arrangements.

Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – A proposed trade agreement between the EU and the US, that has been put on hold since the election of Donald Trump.

W is for…

Withdrawal agreement – A 585-page draft agreement that former PM Theresa May brokered with the EU that included terms of a transition period and the Irish ‘backstop’ (see part one).

World Trade Organization (WTO) – A global organisation dealing with the rules of trade between states. If the UK leaves to leave the European Union with no new trading relationship agreed, it will have to trade under WTO rules, which will lead to a significant increase in the costs to business.