Travel in times of Brexit –

Empty shelves in British supermarkets because fresh fruit and vegetables from the EU are not getting enough into the UK – that is only one consequence of the British exit from the European Union. There are also problems with horse transport. St. GEORG editor Gabriele Pochhammer on borders, official veterinarians and digital ID cards for EU countries.

It’s been a few years since I brought horses from Germany to France and back at irregular intervals, not in a giant truck, but quite normally with a car and trailer. The procedure was always the same, before the trip there was a lot of bureaucracy, among other things a so-called Coggins test had to be taught for the horses. The test of patience was then due at two borders, the German-Belgian and the Belgian-French. You waited for the official veterinarian, who usually took his time before he rolled into the parking lot, peeked through the trailer tarpaulin and put his stamp on the paper. That was the better option.

The other: He took a close look at the horse, noticed that z. B. on the pedigree of the gray mare as the color “brown”, with the small addition “k. Ski. w. ”(can become mold) he couldn’t do anything and the white markings that were still visible on the brown foal were of course gone. Then a time-consuming work of convincing them that no illegal horse swaps were made before the vet. Finally gave his OK at some point. It’s all history, since horses equipped with the red passport have free travel across the EU borders in the European Union.

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Nobody would have dreamed that such times would come back again. But with Brexit, the bureaucratic marathon is back, at least on the borders from Great Britain to continental Europe.

“Everything has become very bureaucratic, very complicated,” says Martin Atock, Managing Director of the international horse transport company Peden, which has been flying and driving horses from all over the world to major events such as the Olympic Games and World Championships for many years.

The agreement between Great Britain and the EU, which was announced on December 24, 2020, had to be more or less knitted with a hot needle due to the time pressure that weighed on both parties. Many details – including the transport of horses – were not precisely defined. “It may still take some time before the final regulation is reached,” says Atock. “You’re working on it. It is negotiated at all levels. ”In May the International Sport Horse Federation (ISHF) set up a“ Taskforce for Brexit and EU Animal Health ”to deal with all problems related to horse transport after Brexit from 2021 onwards. It includes representatives of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), but also of the racing associations. Uncomplicated border crossings are particularly important for thoroughbred breeding, as there is no artificial insemination here and mares with young foals or shortly before foaling are flown around half the world for new mating.

The task force is led by the FEI chief veterinarian, the Swede Dr. Göran Akerström. “This shows an unprecedented solidarity of the horse industry in Europe”, said Akerström. He puts the income generated in the horse sector at 50 billion euros annually, the associated jobs at more than 500,000, which are suddenly endangered by stumbling blocks at the borders. A digital horse passport is being considered, which could supplement the previous one and replace it in the long run, containing all information about the horse, its health status, vaccinations, its travel and ownership. In this way, it is hoped, epidemics can be identified earlier and appropriate measures taken. The EHV1 outbreak in Valencia shows that there is a need for it.

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But it won’t be possible that quickly, from this year on. Martin Atock also fears this. “All EU states and Great Britain have to agree. If the agreement is to have worldwide validity, at least also the USA and Canada, the other countries can then consider whether to join. And things like that don’t work overnight. ”Sounds more like a long-distance run through bureaucracy. The pandemic is not making negotiations any easier. “In the past you could clarify some things in a personal conversation in the bar or over breakfast, but that is not possible at the moment either.”

Until then, the UK will be treated like a third country, like Australia, New Zealand and Brazil. The Irish are particularly affected. If they want to get to the continent with their horses, they have to cross Great Britain and thus have to cross two borders.

The British show jumper William Funnell complained bitterly about the consequences of Brexit for him and his colleagues in the British horse magazine Horse and Hound. Every tournament start on the continent is now preceded by a pile of paperwork. Even worse: The trucks need a new permit to transport horses on the continent. To do this, the gun must first be brought to the EU without horses, and vice versa. The previous licenses have become invalid. All in all, each journey across the English Channel costs him 300 pounds per horse, around 350 euros more than before. “I have to win a lot of competitions to pay for it all,” says Funnell. He admits that he voted for Brexit. “If I had known beforehand what kind of circus it was going to be, I would have thought twice.” Had, had, bicycle chain. And still, the glee somehow gets stuck in your throat.

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