1.This Proposed Negative, laid by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), proposes amendments to EU-derived domestic legislation in England, Scotland and Wales in relation to trade in animals and animal-related products. Defra says that no policy changes are being introduced by these amendments, which are technical in nature and would come into force in a ‘no deal’ scenario only.
2.The Department explains that the proposed amendments are needed to ensure that the current arrangements for the import of and trade in live animals, products of animal origin (including meat), animal by-products, germplasm, and the non-commercial movement of pets and equines can continue with minimum disruption, whilst maintaining biosecurity and welfare standards following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. Defra highlights the importance of this sector: 52 million tonnes of live animals and products of animal origin are imported into the UK annually, worth around £58 billion, of which an estimated 34 million tonnes and £41 billion are from trade with the EU. In addition, around 300,000 pet animals move into the UK annually through the EU Pet Travel Scheme, which provides relatively disruption-free travel between participating countries via so-called Pet Passports. Pet Passports provide assurance that animals are appropriately vaccinated; without them animals must be quarantined prior to entry into the UK.
3.This instrument only makes provisions for the movements of animals and animal-related products from the EU into the UK. We asked the Department about the impact of a ‘no deal’ scenario on the movement of animals and animal products from the UK into the EU. Defra told us that the UK would be treated as a third country and would face considerable additional administrative requirements and potential costs for the commercial movement of animals and animal-related products and the non-commercial movement of pets. Defra also emphasised, however, that any potential reciprocal agreements with the EU would be the outcome of negotiations with the EU and are therefore beyond the scope of these draft Regulations.
4.This instrument proposes to maintain the current arrangements for the import of animals and animal products from the EU into the UK in a possible ‘no deal’ scenario. As Defra says, the question of whether the EU would reciprocate these arrangements is subject to negotiations with the EU rather than this instrument. The Committee frequently considers instruments where the UK Government’s decision to maintain current arrangements may not be reciprocated by the EU in a ‘no deal’ scenario. In this instance, given the potential impact of a ‘no deal’ exit on the export of animals and animal products and the movement of pets from the UK to the EU, the possible lack of reciprocity may be of interest to the House, and the House may expect the opportunity to debate the Department’s choice of unilateral recognition of current arrangements. The Committee therefore recommends that the instrument should be subject to the affirmative procedure.