BirdLife Malta comments on EU resolution

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BirdLife Malta

Following the adoption of a resolution by the European Parliament in support of the Commission’s decision to open infringement proceedings against Malta for violation of the Birds Directive, BirdLife Malta has drawn attention to the fact that now the second major EU institution is sending a very strong political message to Malta.

The European Parliament has come out in support of the Commission’s decision to open infringement proceedings against Malta for violation of the Birds Directive in a resolution that “strongly urges the Commission to redouble its efforts to persuade the Maltese authorities to comply fully with Community law”.

Executive Director of BirdLife Malta Tolga Temuge said: “The whole spring hunting controversy revolved around a smokescreen that the government has built and hid behind. They never negotiated a derogation on spring hunting. This may mean that Malta may be taken to the EU Court of Justice much sooner than the Maltese government calculated.”

During the voting, attempts to reinforce the smokescreen built around Malta’s EU membership negotiations were shot down by the European Parliament. It was clearly exposed that the Maltese government had not negotiated any agreement on spring hunting during accession talks.

MEP Simon Busuttil went as far as putting forward an amendment that called on the Commission to undertake a study on the effects of bird hunting in Malta. This was also rejected by the Parliament since it is the responsibility of the Maltese government to justify its decision to allow spring hunting.

The adoption of the resolution by the European Parliament is to be followed by a visit of an EU delegation, which will include top officials from DG Environment. The aim of the visit is one last attempt to convince the Maltese government to retract their decision to allow spring hunting this year.

The Maltese government now has an opportunity to correct the misdoings of the past. The upcoming visit by the European delegation is the chance offered to the Maltese government to help Malta save face and comply with EU law. It is also an opportunity for the government to regain the confidence of the Maltese public, stated BirdLife Malta.

Tolga Temuge said “BirdLife has repeatedly stated the only point that had been agreed on during membership negotiations was a transition period for the trapping of seven species of finches during autumn. Every spring hunting season given the blessing of the Maltese government since Malta joined the EU in 2003 has been a direct breach of EU law.”

“The attempt by the government to defy EU law for a fourth consecutive year was utterly irresponsible. Now is the time for the government to take the opportunity offered and comply with EU law or the Maltese public will have to bear the brunt of the government’s misconduct. The Maltese government has a mandate to bring Malta’s environment legislation in line with EU law. There is simply no other way forward.” Temuge concluded.

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