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Brexit: jargon buster

A slew of new terms and phrases have come in to common usage as a result of the jargon created by the Brexit process. Our Brexit jargon buster aims to explain some of the most commonly used terms.

Australia-style deal

Australia negotiated a “partnership” with the EU in 2008, which streamlines systems to make trade smoother, but the two parties still trade under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules. If the UK ended up with an Australia-style agreement it would involve adopting WTO trade terms. Tariffs would be applied to UK goods and services being exported to Europe, at an average rate of 5.1%.

Brexit Day

After a series of delays, Brexit happened at 23:00 GMT on 31 January 2020.

Canada model

Canada has a free trade deal with the EU known as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Under the deal, most imported goods are not taxed, although there are some additional customs checks. There are some limits, or quotas, on the amount of certain food products like meat and cereals that can be imported. Services, like banking, are much more restricted. Canada does not contribute to the EU budget and the principle of free movement does not apply, so Canadians are not free to live and work in the EU.

Canada plus

Some people in favour of leaving the EU have campaigned for the Canada plus or Canada plus plus model. The idea is modelled on the trade deal Canada has with the EU. Under the Canada deal, most imported goods are not taxed, although there are some additional customs checks. There are some limits, or quotas, on the amount of certain food products like meat and cereals that can be imported. Services, like banking, are much more restricted. Supporters of Canada plus would want all the benefits of the Canada deal, plus greater access to the EU for the UK's financial institutions and other enhancements.

Cliff edge

A term used by critics of Brexit to describe the prospect of the UK leaving the European Union with no deal at all.

Customs Plan

The Prime Minister’s Brexit deal includes a customs plan. Under it, some goods entering Northern Ireland from GB will have to pay EU import taxes (known as tariffs). The tax will only have to be paid on goods which are deemed "at risk" of entering the Republic of Ireland. The list of "at risk" goods will be decided at a later date. If goods subsequently remain in Northern Ireland (ie do not travel to the Republic of Ireland), companies will be able to apply for a refund on the tax they've paid.

Customs territory

A geographic area, covering two or more countries, which share the same custom regulations. Under Boris Johnson's Brexit deal, Northern Ireland and Great Britain will remain part of the same customs territory - although Northern Ireland will need to continue to follow EU custom rules.

Customs union

The EU customs union is an agreement between EU countries not to charge taxes called tariffs on things coming from other EU countries, and to charge the same tariffs as each other on things coming from outside the EU.

Divergence

How rules and regulations could differ between the EU and the UK after Brexit.

Divorce Bill

The money the UK agrees to pay to the EU as part of a Brexit deal. It is expected to be about £30bn, to be paid over a number of years. It was based on UK's share of EU budgets up to the end of 2020 as well as continuing liabilities such as EU civil servants' pensions. Some of that money has been paid as part of the UK's normal membership contributions already.

Equivalence (also known as alignment)

How rules and regulations could remain the same or similar between the EU and the UK after Brexit.

European Economic Area (EEA)

An area covering the 27 European Union countries plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, which enables those three countries to be part of the EU's single market. They abide by the rules of the EU single market and its freedom of movement of people, goods, services and money. But Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland are not part of the EU's Common Agricultural or Fisheries policies and they do not have a common foreign and security policy.

Free trade agreement

A deal between countries to reduce, but not necessarily eliminate, trade barriers. These barriers include import or export taxes (tariffs), quotas or licences that limit imports, and differing regulations on things such as safety or hygiene or labelling. The aim is increase trade in goods but also services.

Frictionless trade

Trying to do business between the UK and the European Union with the minimum of tariffs, quotas, customs checks and other obstructions.

Level playing field

A set of rules that EU countries need to follow when it comes to areas such as: workers' rights, state aid and competition policy. The rules are meant to ensure that no EU country has an unfair advantage over another. However, Mr Johnson wants to have the option to diverge from all these rules in the future. Free trade agreements between non-EU countries also contain level playing field provisions.

No deal

A no-deal Brexit would mean the UK leaving the European Union and cutting ties immediately, with no agreement in place. However, the UK left on 31 January with the withdrawal deal negotiated by the Prime Minister. A transition period started on the next day, ending on December 31 2020. If no UK-EU trade deal is ready, the UK would then have to follow World Trade Organization (WTO) rules to trade with the EU and other countries, until a deal is ready to be implemented.

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.

Political declaration

Document which sets out proposals for how the UK's long term future relationship with the EU will work after Brexit. Unlike the withdrawal agreement, the political declaration is not legally binding - it sets out the hopes of both sides for the future on things like trade.

Single Market

A system that enables goods, services, people and capital (money) to move between all 27 EU member states, as well as Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. Countries in the single market apply many common rules and standards.

Settled status

EU citizens and their families who have been living in the UK for five years can apply for "settled status", which allows them to stay in the UK for as long as they wish. Any child born in the UK to a mother with settled status will automatically become a British citizen. Settled status means you can work in the UK, use the NHS, have access to pensions and benefits and travel in and out of the UK. Applications from people with serious criminal convictions, or where there are other security concerns, can be rejected.

Tariff

A tax or duty to be paid on goods being imported or, very occasionally, exported.

Tariff free trade

Trade without any taxes or duties to pay when goods are imported or exported.

Transition period

The transition period is intended to allow time for the UK and EU to agree their future relationship. The UK will have no say in the making of new EU laws during the transition process but will have to follow all EU rules for the whole of the period, including freedom of movement. The transition is due to last until 31 December 2020 and could be extended by up to two years if both the UK and EU wanted to. The UK Prime Minister has ruled out any extension to the transition.

TTIP

Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: a proposed trade agreement between the European Union and the United States. The deal was put on hold by the US shortly after the election of Donald Trump as US President.

WTO Rules

If countries do not have free-trade agreements, they usually trade with each other under rules set by the World Trade Organization (WTO). Each country sets tariff – or taxes – on goods entering their country. For example, cars passing from non-EU countries to the EU are charged at 10% of their value. If the UK chooses to put no tariffs on goods from the EU, it must also have no tariffs on goods from every WTO member.

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