Step forward to secure international equine travel after Brexit: warning failure could cost ‘billions’ *H&H Plus*

  • The International Horse Sports Confederation and FEI president Ingmar de Vos has warned if the links between the equestrian industry in Britain and EU member states is not protected, Europe risks an estimated €17bn (£15.4bn) reduction in economic contribution and the potential loss of 250,000 jobs, so “failure is not an option”. Find out more about what is happening to secure the industry’s future below...

    Another step has been made in securing the future of the British and wider European equestrian industry, as a leading industry body warns the cost of failure could run to billions.

    Proposals to secure seamless international transport of horses with high health status – such as competition horses, racehorses and breeding stock – between the UK and EU member states have been put forward to chief Brexit decision-makers.

    The International Horse Sports Confederation (IHSC) task force for Brexit and EU Animal Health Law, which is made up of six representatives from European sport horse and thoroughbred racing and breeding industries, compiled the 14-page dossier. It covers digital passports (news, 24 September) and also requests that a trade agreement reflects the fact that high health status horses in Britain have the same status in EU member states.

    The task force has warned if the industry is not protected, Europe risks an estimated €17bn (£15.4bn) reduction in economic contribution and the potential loss of 250,000 jobs, so “failure is not an option”.

    “Zero tariffs are already in place and the task force is requesting that they be maintained, with the scheme being extended to geldings. Currently only stallions and mares are eligible for tariff-free cross-border transport,” said an IHSC spokesman.

    “If approved, the e-passport would have no financial implications for the EU as costs around final development, implementation and running of the system will be met by the equine industry.
    “Using a two-pronged approach, the task force is seeking to have its proposals captured in the text of both the trade agreement and in the EU animal health law, which comes into force on 21 April 2021.”

    The proposals have been sent to Michel Barnier, the European Commission’s head of task force for relations with the United Kingdom and to Lord Frost, the British prime minister’s Europe adviser and chief negotiator of “Task Force Europe”.

    Should a trade agreement with Britain not be reached, the task force is asking the EU to declare an “equilibrium of health status for A-listed 3rd countries”.

    “The equine industry is of crucial importance to the economic, social, sporting and cultural fabric of both the European Union and the United Kingdom, and as representatives from all sectors of that industry, we believe that there are simple solutions that can guarantee a secure future for the European equine industry,” said IHSC and FEI president Ingmar de Vos.

    “It is one of the most important animal breeding and production sectors in Europe, larger and with greater economic impact and employment than a number of other European agricultural sectors, with a net worth of over €52bn (£47bn) per annum, providing 210,000 direct and more than 500,000 indirect jobs.

    “Our goal is to reach an agreement that will allow for a continuation of the historical expedited movement of horses for breeding, sale and competition between EU member states and Britain. While there are some sectors currently under discussion that seem to remain difficult in the negotiations, we believe that there are simple solutions within the equine industry that can be readily included in a free trade agreement. Indeed, they are also workable even in a no-deal scenario.

    “We are asking the negotiators on both sides of the table to take our proposals on board and incorporate them into the texts of the trade agreement, if there is one, and the EU to include them in the incoming EU animal health law, which comes into effect next April.

    “Without agreement on this, we estimate that the industry in Europe could shrink by as much as a third, with a potential €17bn reduction in economic contribution, and the potential loss of 250,000 jobs in a marketplace already threatened with critical unemployment levels and a significant reduction in foreign direct investment in the European Union as the economic focus shifts to North America and Asia. So failure is not an option!”

    British Equestrian CEO Iain Graham told H&H: ““British Equestrian supports the move to digital identification of horses using electronic passports. Understanding where horses are kept and recording relevant movements will help with disease management and emerging technologies delivered via smartphone app will be key to improving traceability. As we prepare athletes and teams for competition once the transition period is over, streamlined movements and border crossings for high health horses are pivotal.”

    Kent access permits

    Horseboxes travelling to Europe via Kent look likely to require a new permit or risk a £300 fine from 1 January.

    The news comes as the Government confirmed on Thursday (8 October) that Michael Gove’s suggestion of a Kent access permit scheme to avoid major post-Brexit traffic jams will go ahead.
    Following the suggestion last month, H&H contacted the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency to be told it was a matter for the Department for Transport, who in turn referred the request to the Cabinet Office.

    A spokesman confirmed that the requirements would only apply to outbound heavy goods vehicles, weighing more than 7.5 tonnes.

    “We are prioritising the smooth movement of outbound HGVs over 7.5 tonnes through Kent to prevent unnecessary queues at the border,” he said. “HGV drivers, or those acting on their behalf, will be able to follow a simple process to get a ‘Kent Access Permit’ using a simple web service.”

    More detail, set out in the border-operating model published on 8 October, states completing entries online will be “quick and easy”.

    “Where an HGV is deemed ‘border ready’ (in other words, carrying the necessary documentation) based on responses to standard questions, the web service will tell the user that the vehicle could travel to the port, while HGVs which are not border ready will be advised not to travel until the missing documentation had been provided by the exporter,” states the guidance.

    “This will help HGV drivers become ready and reduce disruption at GB and EU ports.”

    H&H 15 October 2020


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