The “Horse Friendship Group” of the European Parliament, led by Jean Arthuis, gathered on 7 November at the European Parliament in Brussels in order to discuss about the Brexit’s impact on the equine sector.

In the framework of the Horse Friendship Group, MEP Jean Arthuis and MEP Hilde Vautmans wished to gather the equine sector professionals at the European Parliament around two themes: innovation in the equestrian sport and horse trade in Europe. Jean Arthuis recalled before the EHN (European Horse Network) members, French and European parliamentarians, agricultural attachés and European Commission officials the excellence of the European equine sector while putting an emphasis on the constraints and uncertainties that are threatening the sector at the same time, notably due to Brexit.

Arqana Marketing Director Alix Chopin perfectly underlined the importance of the selling of horses in Europe and the legal and economic constraints this activity is facing: VAT gaps, selling guarantees issues... Likewise, the Swedish MEP Fredrick Federley emphasised his commitment to the writing of the future European directive on the sales to consumers. At the European Parliament, he wants to exclude the living animals from this text and enact adapted rules in order not to impede the trade of horses in Europe.

James Murphy is an Irish horses’ farmer and the President of the working group on horses at the COPA, the organisation defending the interests of the European agriculture. He made the most of this meeting by listing the questions of the equine industry, notably on trade, employment and the future budgetary challenges of the Common Agricultural Policy.

Paul-Marie Gadot is the chief veterinarian of France-Galop and the representative of the Equestrian International Authorities. She talked about the importance of the Tripartite Agreement (TPA), which eases the move of sport horses and racehorses in the framework of their activities (selling, reproduction and competition) between the United Kingdom, Ireland and France. The agreement was essential the last years in order to galvanise the equine industry among those three countries, which have a strong “horse tradition”.

In the context of Brexit, the member of the Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan’s cabinet Tom Tynan cannot give concrete answers yet. Nevertheless, he wanted to reassure the auditorium on the mobilisation of the European Commission in favour of the upholding of the TPA agreement despite Brexit. For the first time, he took this opportunity to outline the first items about the communication of the European Commission on the post-2020 CAP, which will be released on 29 November.

The host of the conference Hilde Vautmans wanted to highlight, during her roundtable, the innovations that galvanise the European equestrian sport. The Belgian MEP underlined the values of integration, volunteering and education of the equestrian sport, which is regularly evolving thanks to the innovative minds of its actors.

The Director General of the Horse Riding French Federation and President of the Equestrian Tourism Federation Frédéric Bouix already presented the first European equestrian road (route d’Artagnan) to the MEPs last July. He talked about the mobility of horses in Europe.

Thanks to a practical case (the agreement that covers equestrian mobility between France and Benelux), he demonstrated the benefits of this framework and called for its widening to other European countries like Germany and Italy.

The Director of education and norms at the International Equestrian Federation Harald Muller explained the approach of its organisation in favour of the owners of training centres and events organisers in order to support them for the good construction, the maintenance of surfaces and infrastructures as well as the necessity of reducing the impact on environment.

Bert Prouvé, a Belgian professional horserider, and Christophe Ameeuw, EEM World CEO, showed that, with professionalism and passion, equestrian activities and events can attract a wide audience and new passionate people. They were endorsed by Boy-Adrian van Gelderen, a student at the Young Riders Academy and young promising horse rider, who gave his testimony on the educational concept whose the objective is to train the champions of tomorrow.

Jean Arthuis concluded the conference by giving to the Horse Friendship Group at the European Parliament and the EHN the objective of writing down the inventory of obstacles (fiscal, administrative, sanitary) that are disrupting the mobility of horses in Europe. The results of this inventory will be unveiled during the next meeting of the EHN at the European Parliament.

The Horse Friendship Group aims to increase the visibility of the sector’s successes (farming, horseraces, and equestrian competitions) and show the significant economic and social impact at the regional, national and European level. The involved parliamentarians want to share positive messages and remain attentive during the adoption of detrimental regulations for this important economic sector.

There are 7 million horses in Europe and half of them are involved in a sport. Europe has millions of horse riders for leisure and the sport is developing for everyone. More than 20 000 sport events are organised each year in Europe.

Members of the European Horse Network : national and European organisations linked to horses (farming, sport, races, bets, education, tourism, health, animal welfare) - CBC – Confédération Belge du cheval, EFTBA- European Federation of Thoroughbred Breeders Associations , FEI - International Equestrian Federation, EEF - European Equestrian Federation, EPMA - European Pari Mutuel Association , Hippolia - Pole Filiere Equine (Normandie), FEIF – Icelandic Horses, WBFSH – World federation of Sport horses Breeders, HNS - Swedish Horse Council Foundation, EMHF – European, Mediterranean Federation of Horseracing Authorities, UET - European Trotting Union, WHW - World Horse Welfare, FECTU – European Draught Horse Federation, FNRS – Equestrian Centers in Netherlands, GESCA - French equine professionals, ETF – European Trainers Federation, FITE – Equestrian Tourism, BETA - British Equestrian Trade Association, EEN - Equestrian Educational Network, ESSA- European State Studs Association, FEEVA - Federation of European Equine Veterinary, IFCE - French Institute for equestrian sport, Hippolis -  The National Equine Competence Association

More information on the EHN: