Spring hunting infringement against Malta ‘an internal matter’ – Vella

Malta’s trapping infringement ‘still under discussion’ says European Commissioner Karmenu Vella

Karmenu Vella met environment minister Leo Brincat. Photo: Chris Mangion
Karmenu Vella met environment minister Leo Brincat. Photo: Chris Mangion
Karmenu Vella • Infringements on hunting, trapping seasons ongoing

European Commissioner for the environment Karmenu Vella has taken a cautious position on the contentious spring hunting derogation adopted by Malta, saying he will not take a position on infringement procedures launched by his predecessor in 2010.

Vella, a former Labour minister, said the statements by Janez Potocnik were an “internal issue” and an ongoing process on which he would not take a position.

He also said that the Maltese government had submitted its reply to the European Commission’s infringement procedures on the reopening of the finch trapping season in 2014. “The Commission is still discussing it, and the matter is ongoing,” Vella said as he made his way into Malta’s environment ministry to meet minster Leo Brincat.

The European Commission is asking the Maltese government to reconsider its decision to resume traditional finch trapping in 2014, also banned under the Birds Directive.

The EC said no justification at law existed to derogate from the ban, so the Commission sent a letter of formal notice, urging Malta to comply with the relevant EU rules and to respond within one month confirming that this has been done.

Janez Potočnik had also issued a letter of formal notice in 2010 calling on Malta to comply with a European Court of Justice ruling on hunting, or it may decide to take Malta back to Court to request financial penalties.

In 2009, the ECJ found that Malta had failed to implement the Birds Directive by allowing spring hunting of turtle doves and quails in 2004-2007, but allowed the hunting of a maximum of 12,000 quail and 13,000 turtle doves, with a three-week hunting season.

An in-depth appraisal led the Commission to conclude that the principle of proportionality was not being respected in Malta’s plans.

The Birds Directive effectively bans spring hunting to protect birds during their most vulnerable period. 
When asked, Vella said that it would 'not be prudent' to disclose his voting intentions for the upcoming spring hunting referendum in April.
"My interest is a European one though, not a national one," he said. 

More in Environment