The United Kingdom will establish a new central equine database as part of a more robust—and enforceable—equine identification (horse passport) system after European Union member states endorsed proposals for stronger regulations after flaws were laid bare in last year’s horsemeat scandal.

“The Equine Sector Council welcomes these proposals which will be a big step forward for horse welfare in the U.K. and Europe," said Equine Sector Council chair Jeanette Allen. "The new regulations are a triumph for Britain’s horse sector and Defra (the United Kingdom's Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs) who have worked closely and collaboratively together to ensure a better system for equine identification.

"More robust standards of documentation and a central database in every European country will help to reduce fraud and improve traceability, owner accountability, and disease control planning across the European Union, so helping to protect the valuable horse sector,” she added.

World Horse Welfare Chief Executive Roly Owers, MRCVS, said, “Horses in the U.K. will especially benefit from these tougher laws as the U.K.’s system of equine identification could arguably be said to be one of the most complex, and abused, systems in Europe.

"One of the key horse welfare challenges we have is linking a horse to an owner and an overall lack of compliance and enforcement," he continued. "With more than 75 passport issuing organisations of varying standards and no central databas