‘It’s a mass of bureaucracy’: top horse vet shares frustration at ongoing Brexit transport issues

  • The FEI’s veterinary director has expressed sadness at continuing Brexit-related transport troubles and called for issues to continue to be addressed “at the highest level” or risk damaging British horse sport.

    Göran Åkerström’s comments came during his update on moving horses across borders during the FEI general assembly (14-17 November).

    There was some positive news, around hopes of integrating software and a possible QR code that would mean countries’ digital systems “talk” to each other and make life easier for people moving horses across borders. But there was equal frustration at the continued problems resulting from Brexit.

    “This is sad, because we still have problems at the French [border import posts],” he said.

    “It’s a mass of bureaucracy and we see no willingness to improve that. We just need to work really hard on this matter because this will affect [us as it does] already now, but also mid- to long- term.”

    He added that the existing situation is a “major risk to equestrian sport” in Britain, particularly some organisers.

    “People are already moving their horses out of the UK and this is not a good development at all. This of course has to do with politics on the very highest level, but we need to address the highest level,” he said.

    “I know now the new [CEO] of the British federation is increasing engagement with a high level of government and we will certainly support that as much as we ever can.”

    Brexit horse transport: what is the latest?

    Defra updated its border operating model on 18 November, setting out its latest timeline for the opening of Britain’s border import posts.

    Certain rules and paperwork already apply to horses travelling between the EU and Britain, but there are further changes to come next year, particularly for horses arriving in the Britain.

    From July 2022, equines travelling to Britain from the EU will be subject to additional checks and import controls. It is expected that they will also need to arrive through a border control post (BCP), where checks should take place. But the latest government guidance on this is a little grey – referencing that import control checks will take place “at destination where BCP facilities are yet to be completed”.

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