Brexit – some definitions

Single market. Allows goods and services to be sold across Europe. Common standards are used and no excise duties are applied

Customs union. Allows countries from outside the EU to supply goods to EU members. The country into which they arrive guarantees that they meet  EU standards. So, for example, toys or electrical items from China will be safe to use.

European Court of Justice (ECJ). Adjudicates on any dispute arising between individuals, companies or governments from different member countries. So it would protect the patent rights of a British business from being infringed by a company from another EU country. (It is quite different from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which is not part of the EU).

European Parliament. An elected body. Elected using a form of proportional representation. Allows even small parties to have seats and a voice. Since 1973 no EU law or regulation is enacted unless passed by the European Parliament.

European Commission. So-called ‘Brussels Bureaucrats’ are the civil service of the EU. They advise on, draft and enact laws and regulations passed by both the Parliament and the Council.

European Council. Sets the European Union’s (EU) direction and priorities. It comprises each of the heads of state or government of the 28 member states, plus the Commission and Council  Presidents.

Council of the European Union or Council of Ministers. Part of the EU legislature. Represents the executive governments of the EU’s member states. It meets in 10 different configurations of 28 national ministers according to the topic under consideration.

Norway solution. Norway is effectively in the single market (including freedom of movement) but not in the European Union. It pays into the EU [more per head of population than the UK does] but has no say in the EU regulations by which it has to abide.

Canada solution. Canada has a free trade deal with the EU but it only covers goods [not services] and took 7 years to negotiate. 80% of the UK’s economy is services.

WTO (World Trade Organisation). Sets up worldwide agreements on the excise duties and quotas of manufactured goods that get traded. It has a court similar to the ECJ which arbitrates on disputes. It is based in Geneva.

Sovereignty. Ability of a country to make its own rules. 90% of the UK laws and regulations are made independently of the EU. Most of the 10% we share with the EU are for the regulation of goods and services so allowing the UK to be a member of the SM and CU; so in the largest free trade area in the world. The UK has extensive opt-outs from EU regulations which do not concern trade. Those by which it abides include ensuring sewage-free beaches and protecting workers’ rights.

Freedom of movement. Just as the EU allows goods and services to move freely within its member countries, it also allows labour to do so. But the EU allows members to send back those EU citizens who have not found work within a maximum of 6 months and have no other means of support. However the UK government has not implemented this.