The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) and the British Veterinary Association (BVA) welcomed just under 200 guests from across Europe to London on 17-18 June as they co-hosted the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE) General Assembly.
The event, which was originally due to take place in summer 2020 but was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, took place on Friday 17 and Saturday 18 June at Church House in Westminster with delegates from veterinary associations and regulators across the continent in attendance, together with colleagues from North America. This included a delegation from the Association of Veterinarians of Ukraine who, during the proceedings, gave a moving update on the impact of the Russian invasion on veterinary professionals and animal health and welfare in the country.
Following a reception on the evening of Thursday 16 June at the Peers’ Dining Room at the House of Lords hosted by Lord Trees, the proceedings were formally opened on the morning of Friday 17 June by the President of FVE, Dr Rens van Dobbenburgh, as well as the UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Christine Middlemiss MRCVS.
On the first day (Friday 17 June) items on the agenda included updates on veterinary medicines, the situation in Ukraine, the activities of the Animal Welfare Working Group, diversity and inclusion, and educational matters. It also saw RCVS CEO Lizzie Lockett give an update on workforce issues affecting the UK veterinary professions and the College’s work on mitigating them, plus an address from the FVE President as well as guest speaker Dr Ivo Claassen, Head of the Veterinary Medicines Division of the European Medicines Agency in Amsterdam. The day was followed by a reception and dinner at the Institute of Directors.
The second day (Saturday 18 June) saw updates from some of FVE’s key divisions and project groups, including the Food Safety and Sustainability Working Group and the One Health Networks. Guest speakers on this day were BVA President Justine Shotton, with her talk “Responsible use of parasiticides for cats and dogs,” and Fergus Allerton MRCVS, a European Veterinary Specialist in Small Animal Internal Medicine at the Willows Veterinary Centre and Referral Service in Solihull, who gave a talk on the European Union’s ENOVAT project on developing sustainable antimicrobial treatment guidelines.
Speaking about the event RCVS President Kate Richards commented: “After a long delay it was wonderful for us and our BVA colleagues to finally host the FVE General Assembly in a very warm and sunny London. Our commitment to working with our European friends and partners has never been stronger and, what was clear from the course of the meeting, is that we share many of the same challenges – for example, around workforce, mental health and cost of living – but also the same opportunities and that we can and should continue to work closely together to find solutions.
“It was particularly touching to hear from our colleagues in Ukraine who are dealing with unimaginable situations of death, destruction and displacement, and I was proud that we were able to show them solidarity and goodwill from the rest of the European veterinary profession.”
Justine Shotton added: “It’s been an absolute pleasure to act as co-hosts for this event and connect with our European colleagues after such a long wait. Leading the session on parasiticide use was a particular highlight for me, given my interest in sustainability, and we were all incredibly grateful to the Ukrainian delegation for attending and sharing such a moving account of the challenges they have faced in recent times.
“Events like the FVE General Assembly offer a welcome chance to network with the global veterinary community, celebrate achievements and recognise the common ground we share on many current issues. BVA was delighted to play its part, and we look forward to supporting the next event in Malta.”
FVE President, Rens van Dobbenburgh, added: “This was our first FVE General Assembly outside Brussels since Covid. The event was extremely well organised by our colleagues from the RCVS and BVA. All of us were impressed by the exquisite locations where we had our meetings, our opening reception and the gala dinner.
“The GA itself was very successful with the adoption of two FVE position papers, namely on animal welfare labelling and transport, and many high-quality presentations on the programme. Last but not least, the event was a perfect mixture of the formal parts together with countless opportunities for networking between European colleagues. Big thanks to our UK colleagues for organising such a splendid event!”
The next FVE General Assembly will take place in Malta in November 2022. Further information is available online.