European Commissioner orders inquiry on Malta’s ‘Far West’ spring hunting

European Commissioner for the Environment, Janez Poto?nik, has ordered an inquiry to be held on Malta’s spring hunting derogation. The Commissioner was replying to a question by ALDE MEP Zanoni, Vice-President of the inter-group for the Protection of Animals in the European Parliament.


 Mr Zanoni said the Commission is now checking to see if the derogation given to Malta regarding spring hunting respects the EU’s Birds’ Directive. He said he has already asked Birdlife International and the Committee against Bird Slaughter (CABS) to send to Brussels all the information they have which show, “without the slightest doubt” that Malta is a truly Far West in hunting.

If the Commission finds that the derogation is not respecting the conditions in which it was given, the Commission might be obliged to act according to EU law, the Commissioner said.

The European Court of Justice (C76/08) decided that between 2004 and 2007 Malta allowed spring hunting in a disproportionate manner. But the Commission left open the possibility of a derogation limited to spring hunting for just two species of birds and under strictly controlled conditions, considering Malta’s “particular circumstances”.

But MEP Zanoni added he had personally taken part at a camp together with Birdlife Malta and CABS volunteers last October and he knows full well “what is going on”. “The truth is,” he added, “that the Maltese government is trying to fool us. I can assure that the quantity of birds that can be hunted thanks to the derogation obtained by the government of Malta was reached within a few hours, rather than in the 20 days that were permitted.”

If Malta persists on going this way, he added, the Commission must carry out proceedings so that the Maltese hunters are fined millions of euros.

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