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Free Movement of Animals After Brexit

Jun 29th, 2016

In light of recent events, Emma Mennell from Equine Law reflects on what effect the “Brexit” might have on the Equestrian Industry in respect of movement of people and horses. 

Free Movement of People

The Free Movement of People is one of the four founding principles of the European Union. It gives all citizens of EU countries the right to travel, live and work wherever they wish within the EU. Now that we have voted to leave what does this mean for those riders who wish to travel to compete or work abroad?

Until the exit process has been completed (which could take up to two years) everything will stay the same.  Once our exit has been negotiated the ability to work and/or compete in another country could become more complicated and costly.  For example a visa or work permit may be required.  However it is possible Britain might succeed in negotiating for the continuation of free movement in order to retain access to the single market.  This would allow riders to continue to travel freely.  

It will also be important to consider health insurance.  At present the European Health Insurance card allows individuals to travel to another EU country and receive free urgent medical care.  Once our exit from the EU has been negotiated this may not be the case and private medical insurance may be required.

Free Movement of Animals

At present horses are also able to travel freely between member states provided they have the required documentation.  However once our exit from the EU has been negotiated this could change and riders wishing to compete abroad may find that they face stricter controls on the movement of their horses.  Kevin Needham, director of Newmarket-based BBA Shipping & Transport Ltd believes that the recent exit is a positive move in relation to the movement of animals as he believes that it could spark stricter testing for infectious diseases when horses enter another country.

Article 50 gives EU countries two years to negotiate a “withdrawal agreement”.  We will, therefore, be monitoring negotiations closely and will advise of any changes to the rules relating to the free movement of people and animals as they become apparent.

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