Yesterday was a historic day for the United Kingdom. As an animal welfare organisation, FOUR PAWS UK remained impartial in the debate over whether to leave the European Union. What is clear now is that this decision will have many implications, but what exactly these implications will be and how far-reaching is still uncertain.

Regardless of exactly what happens in the UK and Europe more broadly from here on in, what is essential is that we continue to strive on behalf of animals everywhere to ensure better welfare standards across the board.

We will ensure that we monitor the situation in the coming months and beyond and do what we can to make animal welfare a priority, to campaign so that any protection that the UK’s EU Membership provided to animals is not compromised, and equally that any potential improvements that the new political situation in the UK might allow for can be realised.

As always, the animals are our priority and whatever the political situation it is important that, with the help of our supporters, we continue to give them our voice.

While it is clearly still very difficult to predict what is to come next, here are a few outcomes we think could potentially impact animal welfare as a result of “Brexit”. We’ll be monitoring these and any other developments which will affect animal welfare and protection in the UK and acting where necessary.

 

  1. The UK will largely lose its ability to influence animal welfare policy at an EU level. The UK will lose its say in the EU. A number of UK MEPs were pro-animal welfare and without their presence in EU decision-making processes there are fears that welfare and protection standards across the EU could suffer, and that it could be more difficult to influence policy from an animal welfare perspective.

 

  1. Renegotiation of national legislation could actually benefit animal welfare in the UK. On a more positive note, there are some that see the ability to review UK legislation as an opportunity to improve standards without the constraints of the EU. In fact, some believe the UK could go even further than the EU in terms of animal welfare and position itself as a leader in this respect. In order for this to happen, it is of paramount importance that any rewriting of current legislation is done in a transparent way with the involvement of animal welfare organisations, veterinarians and other relevant stakeholders. In this situation, the UK could  have  a slight influence on the EU by setting an example and through its free trade agreements with the EU.

 

  1. New trade agreements could see lower animal welfare standards for farm animals. As and when the UK loses its access to the EU single market, it will be seeking to negotiate new trade agreements with markets outside the EU in order to protect the future of its economy. In the field of farm animals, many fear this could see the UK forming trade agreements with countries  with lower animal welfare standards, which would in turn affect our own standards. Indeed, the UK might be weaker without the EU in standing up for high animal welfare standards and might have less weight during the negotiations.

 

  1. The UK might now be able to regulate the  import of certain animals more effectively. Since the relaxation of EU quarantine rules in recent years there have been various problems with the import of animals into the UK, sometimes coming from terrible conditions and even posing potential health risks. This has been seen particularly in terms of the import of puppies from puppy farms in other parts of Europe. While it is not clear exactly how this issue would be policed going forward, many hope that tighter control of the UK borders could limit the trade in illegal puppies and other animals.

 

  1. Whatever happens, we’ll continue to strive on behalf of animals. Animal welfare issues, on the whole, cross borders and divides. Whatever the local governance of the UK is, we’ll always do our best to work within the necessary parameters to bring about real change for animals.