Commission assessing next step over finch trapping infringement

Karmenu Vella says Brussels assessing Maltese government’s reply on letter of formal notice over derogation on finch trapping

Finch trapping site in Gozo
Finch trapping site in Gozo

The European Commission has no power to halt the ongoing finch trapping season in Malta, but Brussels has initiated formal infringement proceedings over trapping, Karmenu Vella has said.

The Commissioner for the environment told Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder that the EC had initiated formal infringement proceedings against Malta over the Maltese government’s decision to derogate from the ban on trapping of seven species of wild finches.

A letter of formal notice was issued on 16 October 2014, inviting Malta to submit its observations on the matter within one month of receipt of this letter.

“Malta’s reply has in the meantime been received and is under assessment with a view to determine the next appropriate step in the ongoing infringement procedure in accordance with standard practice,” Vella told the MEP.

The Birds Directive specifically forbids the practice of finch trapping, but in July 2014 the Maltese government announced it would allow the reintroduction of finch trapping. On 16 October 2014, the Commission wrote to the Maltese government asking it to reconsider its decision to resume traditional finch trapping, but on 20 October the government decided to go ahead and open the finch trapping season.

In a comment to MaltaToday, Bearder commented said she was glad to see that Vella was taking action.

“During his European Parliament hearing Commissioner Vella made a clear commitment to ensuring the Birds Directive is properly enforced, including in Malta.

“I’m glad to see he is doing just that by taking action to end this senseless massacre. If Malta continues to permit illegal finch trapping, the Commission must remain firm and refer the case immediately to the European Court of Justice.”

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