“We share the same passion for horses” were the introductory words of the President, “horsemanship is a culture, a knowledge and is part of our future”.

Mrs Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, listed the three policies with important opportunities for the equine industry: the agriculture policy and green tourism, NextGenerationEU and the Green Deal.

Mrs Hilde Vautmans, Member of the European Parliament and Chair of the MEP Horse Group in the Parliament, related the actions and support of the equine industry this year, requesting low VAT, and a debate on antibiotics with strong scientific evidences.

Stefan Conter, Belgium breeder and trainer, insisted on the European leadership for sport that must be preserved by politicians and regulators by editing clear and simple rules as well as low taxation of equine activities.

Experts from the industry, Roly Owers from World Horse Welfare, Julius Peters representing the Equine Veterinarians, Paull Khan from the Horseracing authorities, showed how the equine sectors was impacted by the Covid crisis and the Brexit, heavily limiting the movement of horses for breeding and horseracing and sport competitions, as well as leisure activities. The review of the three main pieces of European legislation affecting equines (transport, welfare at farm and slaughter) opens the possibility to improve existing rules by including the latest scientific evidence and make them fit for purpose.

Invited panellists all agreed to say that the Covid crisis made the population in great need for nature and equines are the animals best placed to recreate and strengthen this link.

Mark Wentein, Chairman of the European Horse Network, concluded with concerns about 2022: “will be a most difficult year for the EU equine community. The Covid pandemic is not over yet as well as the Brexit problems. Also, the new EU Animal Health Law (AHL) and the future transportation regulations will create lots of unknown situations. The task of EHN is to remain vigilant and to defend the interests of the equine industry.”