What does a ‘bespoke deal’ mean?

At the outset of the Brexit negotiations, the EU Commission suggested a number of different post-Brexit arrangements between the UK and the EU. Various third party relationships between the EU and other non-members were touted as examples that the negotiations could follow. These ranged from the deal that Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein have with the EU as members of the European Economic Area, to Canada’s free trade agreement.

The idea of a bespoke deal for the UK is that it would be fundamentally different to any existing agreement the EU has with a third country. While this would reflect the particular relationship between the two, problems have arisen over what EU negotiators have repeatedly described as ‘cherry-picking’. This is the idea that the UK wants to just use some parts of the EU’s system, without accepting other rules that the EU bundles together with these.

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