THE potential negative impact that a hard Brexit would have on Ireland’s equine industry resurfaced this week when a new European Union [EU] directive outlined plans to introduce strict controls on animal movements once Britain leaves the EU.
Already the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association has raised its concerns with the Department of Agriculture and plans to send a delegation to Brussels next month.
The directive is being seen as the EU’s opening gambit in the Brexit negotiations on animal movements.
Stakeholders are awaiting publication of Britain’s ‘withdrawal’ document and it is then anticipated there will be plenty of negotiating to be done before the 2019 deadline.
In the meantime Ireland’s racing and thoroughbred breeding industry faces months of worry.
The EU directive baldly states that, from March 30th 2019, Britain will have ‘third country’ status.
From that date, the movement of animals between Britain and the EU will require a series of checks carried out at border inspection posts. These include physical checks and the completion of an EU-approved health certificate.
The worry for stud farms – and Irish racecourses - is that the increased paperwork will deter British owners from sending their broodmares and racehorses to Ireland. Sending Irish-trained horses to race in Britain could also become more difficult.
Shane O’Dwyer, CEO of the ITBA, said: “There is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding Brexit but this notice from Brussels highlights the serious threat to the movement of thoroughbreds in, out and through the United Kingdom.
“However, I would point out that this notice is subject to change, pending the outcome of discussions on Britain’s withdrawal agreement.
“Our Department of Agriculture is very well briefed on the ITBA position - which is a minimum disruption to the current arrangement - and is working hard on our behalf.
“High on our list of priorities is the continued free movement of horses and people travelling with horses and the continuation of high health, welfare and hygiene status.”
O’Dwyer acknowledges that the Tripartite Agreement, which allows for the free movement of horses between Ireland, Britain and France, will no longer apply post-Brexit.
“The ITBA is working with our EU counterparts, including the UK, to continue the tripartite concept, with the resultant privileges of enhanced health status, welfare and movement likely to include new tracking between the EU members and the UK, with a view of providing workable long term solutions for the movement of thoroughbreds.”