BVA welcomes NI Protocol paper as M&S reveals vets are clearing sandwiches

BVA welcomes NI Protocol paper as M&S reveals vets are clearing sandwiches

The British Veterinary Association 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.

The Association’s President, James Russell,  below, spoke out in response to the ideas on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures set out in the UK Government’s command paper published by Brexit Minister Lord Frost and Northern Ireland Secretary of State Brandon Lewis.

He 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.”

Speaking head of the publication of the UK paper, the chairman of Marks & Spencer Archie Norman warned of the impact of full protocol checks on fresh foods when grace periods end this autumn.

“This Christmas, I can tell you already, we’re having to make decisions to delist product for Northern Ireland because it’s simply not worth the risk of trying to get it through,” he said.

Mr Norman called for a “common sense” solution to post-Brexit problems at his firm’s stores on the island of Ireland.

He added: “We’re employing 13 full-time vets who are not looking after animals or welfare, they’re simply ticking boxes and filling out forms.

“Sandwiches typically require about three vets’ certificates to get through.”

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