NOAH has welcomed the Windsor Framework as a very positive step forward towards making changes to the Northern Ireland Protocol in a way that sets out to benefit all communities in Northern Ireland.
The constructive dialogue and detailed discussions have paved the way for new trading arrangements between GB and NI through a new UK internal market system (green lane) whilst still requiring full EU process for third country goods moving into Ireland (red lane).
Importantly, it also recognises the island of Ireland as a single epidemiological area for animal disease and includes measures to protect this.
Nevertheless, for the animal health sector, the specific issue of continued access to veterinary medicines in NI remains, as no change has yet been made in relation to arrangements for veterinary medicines.
The extension of current arrangements until 2025, announced by the European Commission in December 2022, continues to alleviate problems in the short term, supporting the health and welfare of NI farm livestock and pets as well as food security and public health.
However, in the longer term, with no change to the NIP for veterinary medicines, approximately 50% of the current veterinary medicines will not be available on the NI market.
Dawn Howard, NOAH chief executive, said: “We are pleased to see that this has been recognised by the UK Government in the Framework paper which states that, as things stand, more than half of product lines remain at risk.
“We thank NOAH members for their diligent work in providing this evidence, and welcome the Government’s recognition that the only practical solution will be the development of a long term solution, as with human medicines, to guarantee the existing and long-established flows of trade between GB and NI for our sector.
“We look forward to working with them and their EU colleagues in finding a solution that works for veterinary medicines, in the tremendous spirit of co-operation demonstrated by the publication of the Framework.”
Mrs Howard added: “The Framework brings many positives, one specific being the new travel arrangements for pets moving between GB and NI. This ends the old Protocol requirement for an individual certificate for each movement of a pet into NI from GB.
“For Northern Ireland pet owners, there are no requirements of any kind. For GB pet owners travelling to NI, and not travelling on to Ireland, pets will need confirmation of microchip through a travel document issued for the lifetime of a pet.
“We hope that the most welcome declaration that the Government and the EU are both firmly committed to a positive, constructive relationship as partners, focussing on shared priorities in Europe and on a global stage will pave the way for continued developments.”
With animal disease knowing no borders, NOAH said a collective approach to One Health and innovation, such as reopening Horizon funding access to UK projects and expertise, will benefit us all.
“And ensuring NI animals continue to be able to access the full range of veterinary medicines to prevent and treat disease is an important piece in protecting the health of the animals and people across the UK and Ireland, and throughout Europe and the world,” Mrs Howard added.