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Brexit and Animal Welfare Impact Assessment: Analysis of the Opportunities Brexit Presents for Animal Protection in the UK, EU, and Internationally

Centre for Animal Welfare, University of Winchester, Winchester SO22 4NR, UK
Animals 2019, 9(11), 877; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9110877
Received: 27 August 2019 / Revised: 16 October 2019 / Accepted: 17 October 2019 / Published: 28 October 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Animals in Public Policy, Politics and Society)
The British people voted in 2016 to leave the European Union (EU). The UK has a unique history as a leader in animal protection policy. It has a relatively large economy and significant political power on a global basis. Brexit presents both threats and opportunities to animal protection in the United Kingdom (UK), EU, and internationally. This paper assesses the opportunities Brexit presents for animal protection in terms of five criteria. These are first, the political situation; second, regulatory changes; third, economic and trade factors; fourth, institutional considerations; and fifth, EU and international impacts. Brexit provides the opportunity to reform UK farming to promote high animal welfare outside of the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Brexit means the UK can ban live animal exports and the import and sale of fur products and foie gras outside of the EU. Leaving the EU permits the UK to have stricter requirements for the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) to control puppy smuggling. Brexit provides an opportunity for the UK Government to reform policy-making for sentient animals. New sentience legislation could establish a fully independent UK Animal Welfare Advisory body and mandate Government to use animal welfare impact assessments on all policy that affects sentient species. Despite such opportunities, the UK Government appears uncommitted to major reforms. The drafting of the Agriculture Bill does not suggest a progressive animal welfare agenda. For live exports, the Government will consult on how to improve welfare, rather than outright prohibition. Similarly, rather than ban the import and sale of fur, the Government will use its influence to improve the welfare of fur-farmed animals outside the UK. Brexit provides some opportunities for animal protection. Pre-Brexit, the Government has not demonstrated the political will and commitment to realise these opportunities.
The British people voted in a 2016 referendum to leave the European Union (EU). Brexit presents threats and opportunities to animal protection in the United Kingdom (UK), the EU, and internationally. This paper discusses opportunities for animal protection in terms of five criteria. These are first, political context; second, regulatory changes; third, economic and trade factors; fourth, institutional- and capacity-related factors; and fifth, EU and international considerations. Brexit permits reform of UK agricultural policy outside of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to reward high welfare as a public good. The Agriculture Bill, however, does not suggest a radical reform agenda for animal welfare. Brexit permits a ban on live exports, but the UK Government is consulting on improving welfare, not prohibition. Brexit provides an opportunity to ban the import and sale of fur, but the UK Government has signalled it will work to improve welfare in fur farming. Brexit permits the UK to prohibit the import and sale of foie gras, but the Government has stated a ban may be challenged at the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Brexit allows more stringent Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) requirements to reduce puppy smuggling. Lucy’s Law and stricter enforcement will also mitigate the problem. New sentience legislation provides the opportunity for a fully independent and properly constituted UK Animal Welfare Advisory body conducting animal welfare impact assessments and ethical appraisal. The Government has proposed sentience legislation but there is a major risk it will not be in place before the UK leaves the EU. The Government has expanded the remit of the Farm Animal Welfare Committee, which is not fully independent and is dominated by veterinary members and agricultural interests. Brexit provides some opportunities for animal protection with radical reform of agricultural policy, prohibition of live exports, and banning the import and sale of fur and foie gras. Pre-Brexit, the Government has not demonstrated the political will and commitment to realise these opportunities. View Full-Text
Keywords: Agriculture Bill; animal welfare impact assessment; Brexit; Common Agricultural Policy; Conservative Party; fur farming; live animal exports; puppy smuggling; sentience policy; World Trade Organisation Agriculture Bill; animal welfare impact assessment; Brexit; Common Agricultural Policy; Conservative Party; fur farming; live animal exports; puppy smuggling; sentience policy; World Trade Organisation
MDPI and ACS Style

McCulloch, S.P. Brexit and Animal Welfare Impact Assessment: Analysis of the Opportunities Brexit Presents for Animal Protection in the UK, EU, and Internationally. Animals 2019, 9, 877.

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