Brexit negotiators must not jeopardise current high levels of animal health, animal welfare, environmental protection and public health across Europe, according to the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE) in a ‘Brexit negotiation plea’ issued ahead of the next round of negotiations in Brussels this week.
The FVE Brexit negotiation plea, developed in partnership with the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) as members of FVE, emphasises the vital role the veterinary profession plays in public goods, like animal health and welfare, and global societal concerns, including food safety and antimicrobial resistance.
The plea outlines five key asks of EU and UK politicians and decision makers, including:
Ensure continued mutual recognition of veterinary degrees from EAEVE (European Association of Establishments for Veterinary Education) accredited veterinary schools
Ensure no reduction in availability of veterinary medicines, to avoid supply difficulties and guarantee the protection of animal and public health
Maintain current levels of animal health, animal welfare and food safety standards, which include a single standard for import and export markets underpinned by veterinary certification and controls
Ensure continuous surveillance data sharing between the EU and UK
Ensure continuous collaboration in the field of research, science and technology initiatives
The top ask is for continued mutual recognition of veterinary degrees, given the mobility of the profession across Europe. With over half of vets registering in the UK each year coming from overseas, mostly the EU, and 6% of all European vets having worked in another country in the past three years, securing the existing living and working rights of all EU and UK vets is crucial to ensure that current standards of animal health, animal welfare and public health are maintained post-Brexit.
FVE President Rafael Laguens said: “Infectious diseases don’t respect borders, so assuring animal health, public health, food safety and animal welfare require an international approach. They cannot be solved at national level alone. More than ever a continued close collaboration within the European veterinary profession and with international stakeholders is essential for ensuring the interests of animals and people everywhere. As we move forwards, we must be careful to maintain the important achievements reached together in the past decades.”
The European and UK veterinary organisations also highlight that, for every animal or animal product that is imported or exported, specially trained Official Veterinarians must certify and supervise the process to and from third countries, facilitating smooth trade. The plea calls for the EU and UK to commit to a single standard for animal products destined for domestic or export markets. A single standard that includes veterinary controls and certifications will avoid the confusion and the opportunity for fraud that is associated with multiple parallel standards, avoid compromised animal welfare, and ensure consumer confidence in the UK, across the EU, and globally.
Senior Vice President of the British Veterinary Association Gudrun Ravetz said: “We are united with colleagues across Europe in our call to secure working rights for UK and EU vets within the Brexit negotiations. The varied and diverse roles within the veterinary profession provide the foundation for high animal health and welfare, and make essential contributions to the economy and wider society. Vets are absolutely vital in facilitating trade – by certifying meat through to gelatine in sweets, and ensuring standards – so that consumers have confidence in the welfare and food safety of the products they choose to buy at times like this, when it’s most needed.”
RCVS President Stephen May added: “The RCVS welcomes the call from our European colleagues to protect the rights of EU-qualified vets in the UK and UK-qualified vets in the EU post-Brexit, and to maintain our high standards of animal health and welfare. We also welcome the continued ability for suitably qualified vets, including specialists, to have their qualifications recognised both in the EU and in the UK to ensure that the profession can continue to work and collaborate across borders, whether in practice, industry or research. We are very pleased that the FVE’s position on Brexit is broadly in line with our own Brexit Principles.”
Other key asks within the plea include ensuring no reduction in the availability of medicines, particularly in light of the fact that some countries heavily rely on joint licensing and packaging with the UK, and securing ongoing surveillance data sharing, such as antibiotic resistance monitoring and systems to track infectious transmissible diseases.
FVE represents veterinary organisations from 38 EU and non-EU countries, including the UK. Post-Brexit, the UK – namely the RCVS and BVA – will continue to be FVE members and collaborate on priority issues for the veterinary profession in the UK and across Europe.