LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s system for inspecting live animals destined for export could be strained by a surge in requests and a possible shortage of veterinarians if it leaves the European Union without a deal, the government said on Monday.
In a paper outlining the scenario, the government said Britain would have to begin issuing health certificates to animals headed to the EU if no deal is reached on the terms of Britain’s exit, set for March 29, 2019.
These certificates, which are signed by a veterinarian or authorised signatory, prove the animal complies with the quality and health standards of the destination country. Currently, they are only issued for exports to countries outside the EU.
The government warned that Britain’s current system for carrying out health checks and issuing certificates to animals ahead of export may be under more pressure in the case of a “no-deal” Brexit.
It said it is preparing for the scenario by simplifying the application process and ensuring there are enough trained veterinarians to handle a potential surge in requests.
A failure to reach a deal would also affect the transport of animals into the EU, as the bloc would cease to recognise vehicle authorisations and competency certificates issued in Britain.
Transporters would have to appoint a representative in an EU country and secure the necessary documentation there, in order to continue transporting animals into the bloc.
Britain would also have to secure listed third-country status from the EU before it can export live animals and warned it “cannot be certain of the EU response or its timing”.
“Without listed status no exports to the EU could take place,” the document said. “We are confident, however, that the UK meets the animal health requirements to secure listing, as other countries such as Australia and New Zealand have done so.”
Reporting by Ana Ionova; Editing by Mark Heinrich