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Brexit - Need to know

How good’s your Brexit lingo?

09 Mar 2017
Brexit definition in a dictionary

The referendum introduced Britain to a whole range of jargon and acronyms. Here’s a handy glossary . . .

Article 50

Section of the Treaty on European Union (as amended by the Lisbon Treaty in 2007) that sets out how a country leaves the EU. Once the UK notifies the European Councilthat it wants to withdraw, there begins a two-year negotiating period, after which the UK will cease to be a member. That is, unless the other members agree to extend talks.

European Commission

Brussels-based administrative arm of the EU. The commission is led by officials from the different member states, each with a different area of policy responsibility.

European Council

Collective term for the heads of state and government of the member states (distinct from the Council of Europe, the organisation that oversees the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which includes both EU and non-EU members).

European Court of Justice

Court that settles questions over the implementation of EU law (not to be confused with the European Court of Human Rights, which rules on breaches of the ECHR).

World Trade Organisation

Body which oversees international trade and records the tariffs that countries impose on imports.

Single market

Area in which labour, capital, goods and services can move freely (or mostly freely as with everything with the EU, opinions on this differ).

European Economic Area

Countries have to be in this to be a member of the single market.

European Free Trade Association

Loose trade bloc comprising Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, none of whom are members of the EU (although they are part of the single market through separate agreements).

Customs union

Effectively puts a wall around the EU, with goods subject to common external tariffs on entry, but able to move freely inside.


In response to the Brexit EU referendum vote, we have created a hub where you can find the latest information, guidance and advice to support and inform you and ensure you are fully up to date. 

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Need help or advice? Take full advantage of our member only Brexit helpline by calling +44 (0)20 7451 3400.

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