Exiting the European Union

Equine welfare must be considered during Brexit planning.

Equine welfare must be considered during Brexit planning.

We believe that the biggest impact to equines will be to their movement.  In 2017, 17,491 equidae were exported from the UK to other European Union Member States according to TRACES. This figure does not include movement between the UK and Ireland as this does not currently need to be registered on TRACES; however, we do know based on figures from Weatherbys that the  movement of Thoroughbreds is substantial (and we have reason to believe that the numbers of non-Thoroughbreds of a low financial value will be almost as significant). 

We are also concerned that additional bureaucracy at the border could significantly increase journey times. On the EU side, under present rules, animal and plant products entering the EU from a 3rd country can require documentary, identity or physical inspections. These health checks are conducted at a specially designated and designed Border Inspection Posts (BIP), carried out by qualified veterinary officers. There is concern as to whether there will be a sufficient number or whether the routes available for compliant journeys will be limited and could potentially increase journey times for equines.  

On the UK side, if additional checks are required, such as for customs, this has the potential to create long queues and if there is no way to easily ‘jump the queue’ for those transporting equines this could again increase journey times. Scientific evidence shows that journeys of over 12 hours can negatively impact horse health and welfare, therefore this sudden increase in waiting time at the border could impact those who are moving their equines longer distances. 

These challenges are of particular importance to the UK and Ireland as there is considerable movement of equidae between the two countries. Many transporters also use the UK as a land bridge for journeys between Ireland and the European continent.  While we are hopeful that in the event of no deal we would get a third country listing that ensures ease of movement between the UK and Ireland, it is worth highlighting that the possibility of equidae being subjected to a long sea journey from ROI to Cherbourg (from Rosslare this journey is approx. 20 hours) or that consignments must be sealed during transport is still on the table for Irish consignments travelling through the UK, posing further risks to welfare.  

To prevent equines from being subjected to unnecessarily long journeys, we believe that EU Member States must ensure there are a sufficient number of BIPs and, alongside the UK, put in place provisions at their borders to either allow equines to move quickly through or to rest.

The UK Government has issued guidance on exporting your horse or pony after we leave the European Union: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/export-horses-and-ponies-special-rules

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