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What’s Brexit, „backstop“ ?


If you search for the English word „backstop“ a German translation, then you will find several terms. It can mean protection, protection and emergency anchors, but also a fall arrest mechanism and safety net.

At Brexit, „backstop“ means a safety net. And that for the Irish island. Because after Brexit on 29 March 2019, Ireland will continue to stay in the EU, but not Northern Ireland, it will then only belong to the UK.

Brexit thus creates an external border of the European Union on the Irish island. Normally border guards inspect goods and persons at such borders, there are barriers and border fences. But this is precisely what should not happen on the historically sensitive border, so that old conflicts between Northern Ireland and Ireland do not rekindle.

Unlimited appointment

This is exactly where the backstop becomes important. It says that if the European Union and Britain fail in the transition phase to set up a common trade agreement, then the whole of the United Kingdom in the customs union of the European Union and Northern Ireland will remain in the single European market.

Thus, free movement of goods should be guaranteed and border controls prevented. The „backstop“ is unlimited. It applies as long as there is no common trade agreement between the EU and the UK. And: He can not be called from one side.

A good thing for the EU

The transitional phase after Brexit is scheduled for the end of 2020, just under two years after Britain left the EU. It could be extended until 2022. Thus, the EU and Britain have just under two, but no more than four years, to conclude a joint trade agreement. Critics doubt that time will suffice. Because with other free trade agreements, it took much longer until they were ready for signing.

The worry of many Britons is that as the United Kingdom they are stuck in the customs union of the European Union for a long time. The UK is unlikely to conclude any new trade agreements with other countries in the world and would need to continue to comply with EU rules long after Brexit.

The Brexit supporters do not want that and therefore go against the „backstop“ on the barricades. For the EU, the „backstop“ is a nice thing. Because the free movement of goods is guaranteed and the EU member Ireland is protected.