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New legislation to allow RVCS to recognise European vet degrees

The House of Lords passed a Statutory Instrument (SI) to allow the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) to continue to register veterinary surgeons from the European Economic Area (EEA) after the UK leaves the EU.

The Veterinary Surgeons and Animal Welfare (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 were debated in the House of Lords after being introduced by Lord Gardiner of Kimble, Parliamentary under secretary of state for rural affairs and biosecurity at Defra.

The key part of the amendment was that after Brexit, RCVS would be able to introduce the Statutory Examination for Membership for EEA and Swiss nationals where they hold a degree that does not meet RCVS educational requirements and standards.

Under the existing Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications Directive, EEA and Swiss nationals with a veterinary degree from these areas can automatically join the register and currently the exam is only undertaken by prospective registrants from outside the EEA who hold a qualification that the RCVS does not recognise.

Gardiner said: “If the RCVS is satisfied that the degree the applicant holds meets this requirement and is equivalent to one from a UK veterinary school, there is no further assessment of their skill and knowledge. The Royal College estimates that a large majority of applicants from the EEA will meet this requirement.

“If the applicant does not hold such a degree, they must undertake and pass a professional examination administered by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. This would help ensure consistency of approach to the regulation of veterinary standards in the future. These changes do not affect those already registered to practise veterinary surgery in the United Kingdom. Transitional arrangements also ensure that those who are in the process of registering with the RCVS on exit day are entitled to have their application considered under the current rules.”

The changes as approved were in line with the RCVS Brexit Principles (www.rcvs.org.uk/brexit), which were formulated in 2016 shortly after the referendum and state that the college would move towards a reform of mutual recognition.

RCVS president Amanda Boag added: “This was a very interesting debate and we are grateful to Lord Gardiner and those who spoke in the House of Lords and raised points of both support and concern about the SI and its implications.

“As regards the recognition and automatic registration of UK graduates in the remaining EU countries once the UK leaves, the RCVS is working through the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE) and EAEVE to encourage the representatives of the EU 27 to continue to recognise UK graduates and we hope for a positive outcome from these talks.”

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