Finding solution to NI Protocol challenges is essential but complex, warns BVA

BVA president James Russell

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has welcomed the UK Government’s announcement that it is seeking to work with the EU to resolve the problems associated with the Northern Ireland Protocol, but warned that any solution relating to the movement of products of animal origin will be complex.

Responding to the ideas on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures set out in the UK Government’s command paper published by Lord Frost and Brandon Lewis on 20 July 2021, BVA president James Russell said: “There is a huge and legitimate concern about the lack of veterinary capacity to meet the requirements for moving products of animal origin from Great Britain to Northern Ireland once the grace period ends later this year. So we welcome concerted efforts by the UK Government and EU Commission to address the issues we’ve raised and we support the development of a framework that promotes good animal and public health outcomes whilst utilising the veterinary workforce effectively.

“However, the Government must not underestimate the complexity of finding a workable solution.

“A solution for SPS cannot simply be modelled on a customs arrangement as it needs to provide assurance throughout the whole system. Even if a product is sold in NI, there’s no guarantee that it will be consumed in NI due to the thousands of border crossings that take place every day. And consideration needs to be given to those farms and other businesses that straddle the border. How will products destined for these companies be designated?

“In the command paper the UK Government also proposes a dual regulatory regime for Northern Ireland. We remain concerned that dual systems can open the door to food fraud and would want to see significant safeguards in place.

“Steps to address the significant problems under the NI Protocol are essential, but the devil will be in the detail.”

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