Brexit holds a myriad of challenges across a wide range of sectors, including the Irish thoroughbred industry, and these will have to be addressed in the ongoing talks, Mairead McGuinness MEP for Kildare and first Vice-President of the European Parliament, told a seminar hosted by the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association in Goffs, Kill, Co. Kildare this evening (Friday 26th January).
Ms McGuinness said these challenges include the future of the tripartite agreement, which allows for the free movement of high quality horses across Ireland, the UK and France and depends, amongst other things, on all three countries maintaining EU animal health and welfare standards; animal health where currently the island of Ireland is treated as one unit and also in veterinary issues – including veterinary medicines, where the EU currently plays a leading role in regulation through the European Medicines Agency.
She said the message is being heard loud and clear within the EU that a tailored arrangement will have to be found to address the particular concerns of Ireland.
“This week we have heard much about a Norway plus style agreement. And EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier has indicated that the logical outcome of the red lines set by the UK was a Canada-style free trade agreement,” she said.
“However, the really big stumbling block right now, apart from the red lines already set by the UK, is the lack of any articulation of, or detail around, what the UK does want.
“It has become abundantly clear to almost everyone else involved in the discussions that the optimum outcome for the EU and for the UK would be for the UK to stay within the customs union and the single market. There are more calls from inside the UK for this too, it is notable that this week the CBI, which represents British businesses, called for the UK to stay within the customs union.”
She said there is just over a year left in the Article 50 UK exit process, plus around a two year transition period. “The size of the challenge is evident, it took seven years to negotiate CETA, the EU-Canada agreement.”
Talking of the importance of the thoroughbred industry Ms McGuinness said: “This industry is synonymous with Kildare, and it is world class. It is also a very important rural based sector that is hugely important to the local and national economy.”
“Today’s discussion facilitated by the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association looking at how further growth can be achieved is most welcome and I’m delighted to be associated with it,” she said.