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Equine Sector Must Lobby - Locally & At EU Level

"The thoroughbred horse breeding sector must pro-actively lobby politicians at European as well as national and regional levels in order to ensure that the interests of the sector are protected and given fair representation," according to Ms Eimear Mulhern, Chairman of the European Federation of Thoroughbred Breeder's Associations (EFTBA).

It is estimated that over 153,000 thoroughbred horses are represented by the EFTBA and that there are 144,000 full time equivalent people employed by EFTBA members. Founded in October 1993, the EFTBA membership spans 22 countries, 13 of which are members of the EU.

Speaking at the 9th Annual General Meeting of the EFTBA in Paris today (Sunday 12th May, 2002), Ms Mulhern, from Ireland, made the point that in the past 12 years the European Union has passed no fewer than 126 legislative acts, which impact on every aspect of horses of all types.


In a joint presentation to the AGM by Eimear Mulhern and Cathal Lynch from the Irish Business Bureau, the AGM heard that professional lobbying and representation has started to yield results for the thoroughbred sector.

One major example cited relates animal therapies or Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) for antibiotics. "EU legislation did not previously differentiate between the treatment of horses intended for human consumption as horse meat; versus the treatment of horses which are never intended to be used for the production of foodstuffs," explained Ms Mulhern. Additionally the Commission had established a "passport" identification system for breeding and production horses; but had failed to amend previous Directives which impacted on the effectiveness of the passport programme.

Ms Mulhern and Mr Lynch reported that extensive lobbying by the EFTBA over a number of years on the issue of equine medicines has resulted in the most fundamental reform of EU pharmaceutical legislation for many years. Measures have been endorsed by the European Parliament, with the relevant modifications to EU legislation and EU codes expected to be complete by mid 2003.

Other examples of the impact of lobbying on the thoroughbred sector include:


Whilst the EFTBA has been promoting the need for improved quarantine facilities for some time, the forthcoming Olympic Games in Athens in 2004 were of particular concern. The French islands of St Pierre & Miquelon, located between Canada and Newfoundland, have now successfully passed EU inspections and although they are not designated quarantine stations, they can be used as a point of entry with full EU checks.


As a result of meetings with the EFTBA and the IBB, the EU allocated EURO 1.2 million in its 4th EU Research Framework Programme into Reoviridae viruses (bluetongue, African horse sickness and epizootic haemorrhagic disease) The results of this research can be seen at . A further EURO 2.3 million funding, provided as part of the 5th EU Research Framework Programme, continues work into the areas of Reoviridae Viruses and Culicoides-Borne Viral Diseases, with research currently ongoing.

"With the 5th Research Framework Programme finishing in December 2002, it is necessary for the EFTBA and its members to ensure that funding for equine related research continues to be allocated within the 6th EU Research Framework Programme and beyond," said Ms Mulhern. "National Thoroughbred Breeding Associations can provide vital support in this by lobbying their own national Agricultural or Research related Ministers as well as their MEP's to ensure that there is awareness of the need for equine research."


The representative body in Ireland (ITBA) has demonstrated within the 2000-2006 Structural Funding that equine programmes such as development of breeding infrastructures and equine training can qualify for support measures within agriculture & rural development or employment & human resources respectively. During 2003 work will start on the 2006 rounds of EU Structural Funds which are operated through national Governments and members are urged to try to achieve similar measures in their own countries.


"Close monitoring of international and EU issues must be sustained, particularly in relation to CAP (the Common Agricultural Policy) and in relation to the possible EU legislative changes aimed at avoiding a repetition of the Foot & Mouth Disease crisis last year," said Ms Mulhern.

Looking forward, Ms Mulhern also said she hoped that further progress would be made on the development of centralised EU Community Reference Library and on the development of harmonised testing procedures for the equine sector.


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