Malta’s 200 beekeepers suffer funding loss due to ‘copy-paste’ EU rules

Maltese beekeepers are losing out on a €125 per bee box subsidy from the EU because of laws that apply to larger member states

Peter Agius (left) inspecting bee boxes in Malta
Peter Agius (left) inspecting bee boxes in Malta

Over 200 beekeepers in Malta are “victims to a copy-paste implementation of EU rules”, the Nationalist candidate for Europe Peter Agius has said.

Agius, who met the Malta Beekeepers Association, said rules designed for Poland and France, where the average agricultural holding is 100 times bigger than Malta’s, are making it impossible for them to tap into an EU funding subsidy of €125 per bee box.

“EU rules in this case could have been adapted to our particular situation and help our beekeepers in their noble efforts of protecting our home-grown Apis Mellifera Rutneri, an endemic bee particularly well suited to Maltese territory,” Agius said.

“Instead, we have a copy-paste approach, forcing beekeepers to move bee boxes every year with a view to promote an objective which makes sense in France, but is totally ridiculous in Malta. EU rules foresee bee box movements to ensure wider pollination on holdings spanning kilometres. In Malta, this is a futile exercise given that a bee can travel 5km and the existing bee boxes cover Malta and Gozo’s pollination needs ten times over.”

Agius said that Malta’s implementation measures also required evidence of a title deal with the farmer, something which is customary in the continent, but very difficult to obtain in Malta. “The effect of this copy paste implementation of EU rights is that virtually all of the Maltese bee-keepers cannot benefit from the EU funding,” Agius said.

Agius, a speechwriter to President of the EP Antonio Tajani, said that EU accession was no life guarantee. “We must constantly adapt the Union to Malta if we want to see its benefits trickling down to society and to our economy. Otherwise we are driving ourselves towards a relationship of confrontation all down to our own inefficiency. Look at the UK to see where that leads to! If elected as MEP I will strive to clear the path from EU benefits to reach all sectors of society. I will work with all those involved in a spirit of collaboration in an objective driven mission to continue the promised new spring for Malta in the EU,” Agius said.

“We must adapt the EU to our particular characteristics. This is the role of the Maltese government. This should be done in tandem and in constant cooperation and communication with our MEPs who can also amend EU legislation, including funding rules, in their work in committee and plenary in Brussels and in Strasbourg.”

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