How did Brexit affect London?

London (AP) - Brexit has significantly increased the importance of veterinarians for the trade in live animals and animal products between Great Britain and the EU.

The number of veterinarians who can issue the necessary health certificates has tripled to more than 1,800 since 2019, the Ministry of Agriculture in London said on request. The Association of British Veterinarians (BVA) was skeptical that the number would be sufficient.

Due to Brexit difficulties and the corona pandemic, some companies delayed their exports. Therefore, some new requirements have not yet fully taken effect, said BVA boss James Russell. "It is also important to remember that these 1,800 veterinarians do not do the work full-time, but integrate them into existing roles and responsibilities," said the head of the association of the German press agency. "You also need to consider geography and ensure veterinarians are ready to do the job wherever it is needed."

Both meat and dairy products and animal feed must be checked by veterinarians for an export health certificate (EHC) before being exported. Composite products often require several EHC - for example, a sandwich with ham and cheese requires one certificate each for the ham and one for the cheese.

When the EHC is issued, there are still problems, said BVA boss Russell. "Filling out the required documents is a long and complex process." In addition, there are differences in the "interpretation" of the documents at the border. The association called for digital EHC. This means that the process can run more smoothly.

The British Association of Meat Producers (BMPA) criticized the fact that there were numerous difficulties in the first few weeks after the final Brexit - the UK's exit from the EU customs union and the internal market on January 1st. The association counted 125 technical problems by mid-February. This included the numbering of the documents, the stamp color or the fact that the forms were not in the right place in the vehicle.

"Meat sold to the EU from the UK was part of a 24-hour food supply chain with the expectation that it would be delivered the day after slaughter," a BMPA report for the UK Parliament in mid-February said. Now exporters are happy if they can deliver on the day after next. The costs have also skyrocketed - by 60 to 100 percent. "Products have to be stored longer, brokerage fees in the ports have to be covered, and the freight forwarders have longer travel times."

But this is offset by falling income. According to the BMPA, pork exports to the EU in the first six weeks of the year were only 10 to 50 percent of the previous year's figure. In mid-February it was 50 to 75 percent. "The impression is that up to 25 percent of trade with the EU is permanently lost."

Former British vice veterinary surgeon Alick Simmons warned against weakening its own standards in view of the export problems. Producers would turn more to the domestic market, said Simmons of the dpa. It is therefore "very likely" that they question rules that have been introduced for trade within the EU. "In the end you return to what was before - a two-tier system," said Simmons - on the one hand companies that comply with EU standards, but on the other hand companies that only deliver in the UK and therefore do not comply with the EU Feeling bound by rules.

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 210320-99-898752 / 2