Michel Barnier has raised the prospect that the ‘pet passport’ scheme may be suspended after Brexit
Michel Barnier, the chief Brussels negotiator in the talks about Britain’s departure from the bloc, raised the prospect of the “pet passport” scheme being suspended.
In recent comments that emerged yesterday, the EU diplomat warned that a breakdown in the discussions could affect the ability of “dogs and cats to cross the Channel.”
Angry Brexit campaigners condemned his claim as “silly” and were a signal of that the bureaucracy is running a “vendetta” against the UK following last year’s historic referendum vote to leave the EU.
Mr Barnier made his remarks to French magazine Le Journal du Dimanche over the weekend following his latest round of negotiations with EU Exit Secretary David Davis in Brussels last week.
The ‘pet passport’ scheme allows owners to take vaccinated pets abroad
It’s really very silly. You can’t take this man seriously, he is now negotiating absurdly. It undermines his credibility
The EU chief negotiator claimed the existing regime of common standards covering travel between the UK and other EU nations would be put under strain if the two sides in the talks failed to reach agreement.
The pet passport scheme, which allows owners to certify animals have been vaccinated against rabies, was among the regulations that could be immediately suspended if the discussions broke down.
“Without agreement, it would fall into the common law regime of the World Trade Organisation, with relations similar to those we have with China,” Mr Barnier told the magazine.
“A failure of the negotiations would have consequences on multiple domains, just on the ability of British planes to land in Europe, the United Kingdom leaving the single sky [air traffic management system], or on dogs and cats to cross the Channel.
MEP Daniel Hannan (L) and MP Jacob Rees-Mogg (R) have both criticised Mr Barnier’s suggestion
“In Europe, everything is integrated because we have common standards: that seems to have been forgotten.”
Mr Barnier went on to insist that Britain leaving the EU without a deal was not his “preferred option” while warning: “It’s a possibility.”
He added: “Everyone needs to plan for it, member states and businesses alike. We too are preparing for it technically.”
Andrew Rosindell, a senior Tory MP and dog lover, said: “What is this man saying? Surely our beloved dogs and cats are not going to be victims of the Brussels vendetta against Britain now, are they?”
Jacob-Rees Mogg, another Tory backbencher, said: “It’s really very silly. You can’t take this man seriously, he is now negotiating absurdly. It undermines his credibility.
“The worry has always been of rabid animals coming from the continent. I’m all for keeping rabid Eurocrats out of the UK.”
Tory MEP David Campbell Bannerman said: “Barnier’s threats on pets bound to rub animal-loving Brits up wrong way.”
He joked that Mr Barnier’s threat was similar to a ransom demand saying: “Pay us the money or the dog gets in.”
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And Daniel Hannan, another Tory MEP, said: “The EU pet travel scheme covers Australia, Jamaica, Japan, Singapore, USA etc but it wouldn’t cover Britain? This is getting silly now.”
Downing Street officials yesterday insisted that Theresa May was determined to negotiate “a deal that works for both the UK and the EU.”
The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “I think we are heading in the right direction; we are very confident of achieving that. We think we are making good progress.”
Tens of thousands of dogs, cats and other domestic pets are estimated to travel between Britain and other EU countries every year.
P&O Ferries alone carried more than 20,000 pets from Dover to Calais last year.