Brexit and Animal Welfare Impact Assessment: Analysis of the Threats Brexit Poses to Animal Protection in the UK, EU and Internationally
Department of Politics and Society, University of Winchester, Winchester SO22 4NR, UK
Received: 24 January 2019 / Revised: 19 March 2019 / Accepted: 19 March 2019 / Published: 26 March 2019
The British people voted in a 2016 referendum to leave the European Union and the United Kingdom (UK) is set to leave the EU in 2019. Brexit is a major political change and it presents both threats and opportunities for animal protection. This paper assesses the threats that Brexit poses to 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. The EU has the most progressive animal welfare laws in the world. The UK Conservative Government, which is delivering Brexit, has a mixed record on animal protection. Brexit is forecast to have a negative impact on the UK economy, which is likely to negatively affect animal welfare. A major threat of Brexit is the import of meat and dairy products to the UK raised in lower welfare standards from nations such as the United States (US). The development of Brexit policy suggests there is a significant risk that this threat will materialise. Furthermore, Brexit will result in a reduced political lobby within the EU for progressive animal protection reform. Despite the UK being a progressive animal protection nation, she will have less power to exert this influence to improve animal welfare outside of the EU. Brexit poses substantial risks to weaken animal protection in the UK, EU and internationally. Further research is needed to assess the opportunities presented by Brexit to judge whether Brexit will be overall positive or negative for animal protection.