A sustainable post-Brexit sector
The shockwaves from Brexit will be felt far beyond the UK borders, writes Gaynor Hillier, Affiliate Director for UK and Ireland.

Sustainability and Brexit. Two words that can independently generate entirely different responses depending on the audience.

Put them together and they can generate a potent mix of concern, emotion, passion and uncertainty.

For many across Europe, Brexit is very much a UK problem. But its implications for animal health across the continent are more far-reaching.

The recent announcement that the EMA (European Medicines Agency) will move out of London and be relocated in Amsterdam will mean upheaval for the 900+ staff members.

We don’t yet know what the impact on licensing – both human and veterinary – will be. But as an industry, we will endeavour to work closely with regulators to guarantee a smooth transition from London to Amsterdam.

The flow of innovation into the companion animal and food production areas is the lifeblood or our industry, and we must do everything we can to ensure it continues.

During periods of uncertainty and change, our trade bodies are crucial in bringing together the stakeholder groups and interested parties – from farmers, vets and industry colleagues, through to regulators, governments and European politicians.

At the European level, AnimalHealthEurope is looking to ensure continuity of access to products, which will require suitable licensing and trade agreements. These goals are shared by NOAH, the UK trade body.

Despite the uncertainty, a recent NOAH Brexit survey on the six areas critical in securing innovation and sustainability in our sector found a reasonable level of optimism.

‘Animal health and welfare’ and ‘public health and food production’ elicited the most hopeful sentiment. Tellingly, however, ‘bringing a product to market’ and ‘trade and exports’ scored the lowest. And across all areas many respondents remain ‘in the middle’ while negotiations continue.

We need to better understand what the impact of Brexit actually means in order to address the challenges facing the future of sustainability in animal health.

Like any other sector, our industry needs certainty, and its absence makes it difficult to plan for the many potential outcomes.

The positive in all this is that Brexit has encouraged diverse stakeholders to come together. The Agri-Brexit Coalition, for example, brings together expertise from across the spectrum of agricultural supply, trade and technology.

We as a sector have a major role to play in ensuring vets and animal owners continue to have access to innovative and established medicines to maintain animal health and welfare – Brexit or no Brexit.

The next Barometer update will be available from NOAH in December 2017.

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