Europe urged not to put up barriers to horse movement if no deal on Brexit
A 'no deal' Brexit need not lead to the end of free movement of racehorses as long as Europe does not put up barriers, politicians and negotiators have been told.
BHA executive director Will Lambe on Monday urged both the European Commission and European governments to ensure there was no disruption to the racing and breeding industries, warning that Ireland and France would be hit if barriers were imposed.
Lambe attended a meeting of racing administrators from Britain, Ireland and France last week to discuss preparations for Brexit, including the "worst-case" scenario of no deal being achieved.
After that meeting Louis Romanet, president of the International Federation of Horse Racing Authorities, said concern was growing that no deal was becoming a real possibility, and that Ireland and its breeding industry would be worst hit in that event.
The tripartite agreement that enables free movement of horses between Britain, Ireland and France will officially end following the UK's departure from the European Union in March – although it is hoped the arrangement could continue during any transition period – while a new 'high health horse' category has been proposed to replace the agreement.
Lambe said British racing and breeding had been working with both the UK government and European colleagues to secure seamless thoroughbred movement and trade beyond Brexit.
He added: "In a no deal scenario, we would fully support the UK government position under which no tariff or non-tariff barriers would be imposed on thoroughbred movements into the country when the UK leaves the EU.
"However, were this not to be reciprocated by the EU – and such barriers imposed – it would clearly and regrettably have adverse implications that would need to be closely managed, and which would be detrimental to all EU equine industry interests, most notably in Ireland and France.
"Proactive efforts are being made by the UK government to avoid unnecessary disruption in such a scenario, and we would encourage similar preparations to be made by the commission and European governments."
The government is set to publish on Thursday the first in a series of technical notices designed to prepare the UK for the possibility of no deal being reached.
Equine movements and animal breeding are set to be among the 84 papers, according to a list leaked to Buzzfeed.
It asked if the government had "considered the effect of ending free movement on sports such as horseracing".
In reply, sports minister Tracey Crouch said the government understood "the importance of movement of people across borders to maintain a thriving horseracing sector", and noted the sport's requirements from any future immigration system "and concerns around the shortage of work riders".
She added: "As your letter recognises, British and Irish horseracing sectors are well-integrated, and British racing benefits from the experience of staff and the calibre of jockeys who come to work and compete in the UK.
"The UK government is firmly committed to maintaining the Common Travel Area [CTA] and to protecting the rights enjoyed by UK and Irish nationals when in each other’s state.
"We are also aware of how important the movement of horses is to the horseracing sector. We want equines to continue to be able to travel to and from the EU with minimum disruption, while maintaining high biosecurity and welfare standards.
"DCMS is working closely with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which leads on animal health and equine movements, on this issue."
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