Is EU Single Market membership part of the backstop in the Withdrawal Agreement?


1 Answer 1


No, it's not. A customs union doesn't equal the Single Market. Not even the Customs Union equals that. Turkey is such an example. Crucially, the Single Market includes freedom of movement for labor, which is not included in the Customs Union.

Under the backstop Northern Ireland will basically apply the full code of the Customs Union, while the rest of the UK will be in a less encompassing one.

  • 1
    There are also some extra conditions on services (e.g. electrical supply) of Northern Ireland under the backstop, which place it closer to the single market.
    – origimbo
    Commented Apr 7, 2019 at 19:09
  • @Relaxed: does the backstop include freedom of movement of EU labor (not just Irish) into Northern Ireland? Commented Apr 7, 2019 at 19:14
  • Not downvoting because the answer is correct. But Turkey's position is not exactly enviable from a trade deal standpoint, and insofar as I'm aware there are some parts of the Single Market that still apply, like food safety or fishing rights (and if I am not mistaking submitting to the ECJ for those things). Commented Apr 7, 2019 at 19:14
  • @Fizz I don't think so, why are you asking?
    – Relaxed
    Commented Apr 9, 2019 at 6:11
  • @Relaxed: because that (freedom of movement for labor) was the main difference I was trying to convey here. Like I said in a comment under the question, it's also reasonable to assume that by "membership" he meant just some level of Single Market access (or possibly even some level of harmonization), but I assumed he meant full membership. Commented Apr 9, 2019 at 7:05

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