The impact of Brexit
Increased paperwork relating to the export of horses and horseboxes to the EU as a result of Brexit, has negatively impacted the horse racing and breeding industry. Data from January to February 2021 submitted to parliament from the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has revealed:
- A 67% reduction in British runners in the EU compared to only a 23% reduction across the rest of the world.
- Thoroughbred Breeding Clearance Notifications (BCNs) for temporary exports have fallen by 61%.
- Thoroughbred Export Certificates for permanent export have fallen by 30%.
- A 92% reduction in EU trained runners in British races, with a 93% reduction in Republic of Ireland runners and 89% reduction in Northern Irish runners.
This data is compared to the same time period in 2020 and shows the large impact Brexit has already had on racing and breeding. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has had some impact on exporting, the main issue has been the significant amounts of paperwork now required. With increased amounts of paperwork comes increased costs for horse owners and increased workloads for vets. The current paperwork required for exporting a horse requires a minimum of 26 stamps, each of which needs to be signed by a vet. This makes the process extremely difficult and time consuming. The additional paperwork has also resulted in long delays at borders, potentially causing stress to the horses.
Calls for a reduction in paperwork
As a result of this, racers and breeders alike are calling for a reduction in certification and administrative paperwork. This aims to allow freer cross border movement and improve access to European races and thoroughbred breeding. Furthermore, the BHA has highlighted the significant value of horseracing and breeding to the British economy, as the industry generates £4.1 billion and employs over 20,000 people. Their paper submitted to parliament makes suggestions to better facilitate the cross-border movement of horses. These include digitising the required paperwork to improve industry integration and biosecurity. The BHA also propose that the High Health Status of thoroughbreds be recognised which could enable risk based assessments to take place away from the border.
Fortunately, steps are being made to improve cross-border movement, such as with the removal of the 30-day isolation period for horses travelling between the UK and EU. The International Horse Sports Confederation (IHSC) Task Force is also working with UK and EU authorities to establish similar transportation conditions for high-health horses that were previously in place under the Tripartite Agreement. This, in addition to the digital paperwork proposal should soon improve exporting conditions.
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