The Northern Ireland protocol under the European Union withdrawal agreement applies the EU pet travel regulations for pet movements from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. Great Britain has currently been listed by the EU in part 2 of the regulations, which requires some documentation. However, Great Britain and Ireland have a similarly very high health status, and we are discussing possible bilateral provisions with Ireland. In the meantime, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs is taking a pragmatic approach in this initial period.
I assume that the Secretary of State is aware of the challenges this causes for ordinary pet owners, but specifically can he advise what mitigations were anticipated and are being put in place for those who require assistance dogs to travel between Britain and Northern Ireland?
The primary purpose of the pet travel regulations is to control the spread of rabies, and both Ireland and Great Britain have very similar and very high health status on rabies, having not had it in dogs previously. We therefore think that there should be easement on the provision; we have argued with the Commission that we should be listed in part 1, but we are continuing to make those bilateral negotiations with Ireland a priority.