To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to EU Official Control Regulation 2017/625 due to come into force on 14 December 2019, whether the Government has contingency plans to process consignments of live animals in the event that they are returned to the UK after being refused entry into the EU if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
The Government has strong plans in place to manage issues or risks arising from the import or export of animals and agri-food products. This includes managing the risk of high risk journeys, measures to safeguard welfare and processes required if animals or goods are rejected at EU borders.
If the UK is listed and the exported animals meet standards at least equivalent to those required for production and trade between the Member States and consignments are in compliance with the relevant Official Controls Regulation (OCR) and associated tertiary legislation, then in principle those animals should not be refused entry.
Where the consignments are not in compliance with the relevant requirements and present a risk to animal and human health, the OCR and tertiary legislation provide for a range of measures ranging from quarantine (pending further decision of the competent authorities at Border Control Posts), destruction of consignments, special treatment and re-despatch. The regime for these measures is essentially the same as the one provided under Regulation 882/2004.
UK goods, including live animals that are exported to the EU in the event the UK leaves the EU without a deal, and rejected at an EU Border Control Post can travel back to the UK on the same documents issued for their journey. The consignment will need pre-notification to the UK of its return, but will be able to return to the UK via any port of entry and will not be subject to routine veterinary checks at the port of entry.
Transporters of animals have a legal duty to protect the welfare of their animals and should only plan journeys if they are sure that the journey is viable and compliant with welfare requirements, for instance on maximum journey times.
They will need to check that all certification is in place and all EU import conditions are met to minimise the likelihood of being returned.