EU to tighten rules on horse passports

A Commission proposal to revise the rules for the identification of horses has been endorsed by EU Member States’ experts. This revised Regulation provides a more reliable and safer European system for the registration and identification of horses in the EU. One of the basic aims is to prevent the inadvertent or fraudulent slaughter for human consumption of horses which must be excluded from the food chain.

EU Commissioner in charge of Health, Tonio Borg said: “As promised, this is another lesson drawn from last year’s horse meat fraud: the rules endorsed by the member States will strengthen the horse passport system in place. I believe that closer cooperation will enhance the safeguards which prevent non-food quality horse meat from ending up on our plates”.

Main elements

With nearly 7 million equidae in Europe, the revised rules will require foals to be issued with a single passport having a unique identification number, before their first birthday. The passport also serves as a medical record and will serve the horse over its lifetime. All horses born after 1 July 2009 will need to be micro-chipped. Technical security features aimed at reducing the risk of falsified passports have also been put in place.

The introduction of a compulsory centralised database in all Member States will assist the competent authorities to better control the issuance of the passports by different passport issuing bodies. It will also substantially simplify, for the keepers, the procedures for updating the identification data in both the passport and the database of the issuing bodies.

Next steps

The Regulation will apply from 1 January 2016. However, EU countries not already having a centralised database will have until 1 July 2016 to put one in place.

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