Now that the hysteria relating to the EU Referendum has passed, it is useful to look at the buzz terms relating to Brexit. What is the EEA, EFTA, Single Market, Soft and Hard Brexit, Free movement, Article 50 or sovereignty?

Article 50: It is part of the Lisbon Treaty, a document that sets out the restructuring of the European Union and its foreign policies. Article 50 is a very short document, consisting of 5 points that explain a European country’s withdrawal from the EU. When the Article is invoked, the particular country has two years to negotiate its relation to the EU. Time extensions can be provided upon agreement of all the parties involved. (

Bremain: It is an abbreviation of British Remain. The two leaders of the Bremain campaign were Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne. It refers to all the people who voted to Remain in the EU during the 2016 EU referendum. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, the Remain vote won with 62% and 55.8% respectively. Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, has expressed intentions for a second independence referendum, whereby an independent Scotland will remain within the EU.

EC: The European Commission (EC) is the executive body of the European Union that represents the EU’s interests. Its President is Jean-Claude Juncker. Its role is to propose and enforce EU laws, set out priorities for action, manage EU policies and budget, and represent the EU outside Europe. The commission is responsible for: stimulating growth and job creation, the digital online market, making energy secure, developing a stronger Internal Market, stability for its single currency and fair economic Union, freer trade, justice, migration, global action and democratic change.

EEA: Known also as the EEA agreement, it has been in force since 1994. The European Economic Area (EEA) connects the EU Member States and the three EEA EFTA States (Ireland, Liechtenstein and Norway) to a single market or “Internal Market” based on four rules: the free movement of goods, services, persons and capital in all 31 EEA States. Apart from these four freedoms, the Agreement covers cooperation in various areas, called flanking areas. Some of these include budgetary matters, cultural affairs, education, employment, gender equality, health and safety at work, public health and research and innovation. These freedoms and opportunities for cooperation between EU countries, Ireland, Liechtenstein and Norway are very important, something that the UK has enjoyed so long, but might have to sacrifice if it persists on controlling immigration and halting freedom of movement. Up until now, there was no other case in which the EU has accepted single market access without free movement. Switzerland is not part of the EEA Agreement, but its relations to the EU are ruled by the Free Trade Agreement which is decided by the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). (

EFTA: The European Free Trade Association is an organisation that promotes free trade and economic integration to its four EFTA Member States: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. UK, one of its seven founding members, would later, in 1973, leave to join the EC. 

Free Movement: The right and freedom of EU citizens to move, work and live freely in any EU Member State. It is one of the founding principles of the EU and a fundamental right of EU workers.

Hard Brexit: This means immediate departure from the EU and cutting off relations completely. The defendants of this position are some members of the UK’s Leave campaign and the Conservative Party.

Leave Campaign: Created in 2015, it included members from the Conservative, Labour and UKIP parties. It supported the vote to leave the EU in the UK-EU membership referendum or Brexit referendum on Thursday 23 June 2016. The Leave vote won with 51.9%. 

Lexit: It is an abbreviation of the Left and Leave. It was a UK Left campaign for exiting the EU, chaired by Robert Griffiths, the general secretary of the Communist Party of Britain. Lexit is the coalition of the Communist Party of Britain, the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers and the Respect Party.

Single Market: The European Single Market refers to the free movement of goods and services within the EU. (

Soft Brexit: A slower departure from the EU which will allow for long-term negotiations extended until 2020. Soft Brexiters want to retain access to the single market while achieving some form of agreement on the issue of free movement. This will resemble Norway’s model, which is a member of the EEA, but with stricter rules on immigration.

Sovereignty: The recognised right and authority of a state to have its own legislations, justice system and autonomy to make decisions about its internal and foreign affairs. A sovereign state is also one that is able to enter into relations with other states. In the UK the supreme legal authority is represented by the Parliament sovereignty. This is limited by: the devolution power (given by the central government to regions or localities to govern at a subnational level) of the Scottish Parliament and Welsh assembly, the Human Rights Act 1998, the EU, and the UK’s Supreme Court. However, the Parliament has the power to cancel any of the laws applied by the above bodies. The Leave campaign voted for taking control of Britain, but, in this case, it opposes Scotland’s decision to Remain within the EU and brings the issue of Scottish sovereignty at the forefront.

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