UK racing stakeholders have been warned to brace for ‘significant changes’ to the UK and EU equine travel arrangements, regardless of whether a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) can be negotiated by the government as of 1 January 2021.
The alert was provided by the ‘Thoroughbred Industries Brexit Steering Group’ which guides the preparations of racing for the departure of the UK from the European Union.
The Steering Group has, as it stands, instructed its members not to move horses to and from the EU ‘unless absolutely necessary for at least the first two weeks of 2021’.
While hopeful that the UK can secure its FTA, the racing leadership has cautioned the government that clarification on a range of issues still pending is needed for the sport and its thoroughbred stakeholders.
The government was advised to explain the status of the United Kingdom as a third nation and how it would affect the listing of animal health uses at the end of the transition period, with thoroughbred carriers needing animal movement permits across Europe and EU carriers operating within the United Kingdom.
UK racing would require the acknowledgment of ‘general stud rights’ as the transition period ends, to recognise thoroughbreds and allow registered horses to pass.
The steering group warned that ‘additional friction’ in the movement of thoroughbreds through key ports from 1 January should be anticipated by all racing stakeholders.
If an FTA is obtained, racing would require the government to make detailed provisions for equine health rules for travel, as well as a substitute for the existing ‘Tripartite Agreement’ originally negotiated between France and Ireland.
Julian Richmond Watson, chair of the Brexit Steering Group said: “We know that some people want to make plans for the New Year, but the picture will remain unclear until we know the terms of any new agreements between Britain and the EU.
“Our message right now is ‘Stand By, Change is Coming’. We would ask participants to keep up to date with the latest information regularly via the Brexit page on britishhorseracing.com and await direct communication from their membership body once we know the details.
“We continue to work closely with Defra and all other relevant UK government departments, who are well-informed about the needs of the racing and breeding industries. We are also in regular contact with our counterparts in Ireland and France and other EU jurisdictions.”