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Horse movement fears under no-deal Brexit recede after EU ruling

The government has welcomed the EU's decision to grant the UK third-country status
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Fears that all horse movement between the United Kingdom and European Union would be impossible under a no-deal Brexit have receded.

The United Kingdom was on Wednesday granted 'third country' status for the export of live animals by the European Union, although barriers to seamless movement of racehorses and breeding stock remain in the event of no deal being agreed.

The BHA warned the sport it still needs to prepare for a no deal outcome in the Brexit negotiations.

Without third country status racehorses and breeding stock would not have been able to move between the UK and EU at all in the event of no deal being agreed.

It was always expected that third country status would be granted but there had been frustration about the length of time the process was taking, with the UK having submitted its application for listing in November.

The status also applies only if the UK leaves without a deal on Friday. Should the EU agree to an extension, third country status would have to be granted again should the UK leave without a deal at a later point, although that would not be expected to pose a problem.

Current arrangements would continue until the end of any extension or later if a withdrawal agreement is finally voted through.

BHA executive director Will Lambe welcomed the EU's decision
BHA executive director Will Lambe said: "This decision on listing from the European Union is extremely welcome and reflects the UK’s high health standards in respect of its animals, and of course the thoroughbred population within this.

"It provides important clarity for the racing and breeding sector ahead of a potential no-deal departure from the EU this Friday, which remains the default outcome ahead of this evening’s European Council summit."

He added: "While it would have been preferable for the EU to commit to continuing with the current systems and the tripartite agreement for thoroughbred movement in the event of no-deal – as the UK has done – we have at least avoided a deeply damaging situation whereby horses would be prevented from travelling to or back to the EU.

"We continue to hope a deal can be reached, but at the same time encourage all in the industry to be prepared for a potential no-deal outcome, and to refer to the detailed information on the BHA website as to what steps they should be taking.”

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said the news would offer the equine sector "welcome reassurance".

Food and animal welfare minister David Rutley
Food and animal welfare minister David Rutley added: "This is good news for UK businesses. It demonstrates our very high standards of biosecurity and animal health, which we'll continue to maintain after we leave the EU."

He added: "Our top priority remains delivering a negotiated deal, but it's the job of a responsible government to ensure we're prepared for all scenarios, including no deal."

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We have at least avoided a deeply damaging situation whereby horses would be prevented from travelling to or back to the EU
E.W. Terms