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REPLY FROM COMMISSIONER GÜNTER VERHEUGEN

EUROPEAN COMMISSION

 

 

Günter Verheugen

Member of the European Commission

 

                                                        

Brussels, 29 November 2002

 

 

 

Dear Mr  Van der Berg ,

Thank you for your e-mail of 10 October 2002 to Commissioner Wallström and myself.

In agreeing to the recent EU Common Position on the environmental chapter, Malta has accepted to fully transpose and implement the Birds Directive by the date of accession. This means that bird hunting in Malta can, as from accession, only take place within the limits provided for by the directive. As you are aware, Article 9 of this directive allows, where there is no other satisfactory solution, for exceptions under certain very stringent conditions.

If Malta wishes to allow spring hunting, for instance in relation to certain species like turtle dove and quail, it would need to ensure that all the requirements of Article 9 are met and that permitting is carried out under strictly supervised conditions and limited to small numbers only. Furthermore, the use of Article 9 is subject to monitoring by the Commission and Malta is committed, in such a case, to report each year on its possible use.

I assure you that the Commission will avail itself of all the means at its disposal in order to monitor closely Maltas respect of its commitments in this area.

We should also recognise that the accession of Malta to the EU, by bringing it into conformity with the common standards defined in the Birds Directive and already applied in all Member States, will provide a greatly strengthened framework for bird protection on the island and a safeguard for our shared heritage of wild birds.

In the past two months, the European Commission has answered several written questions from the European Parliament related to the negotiations on wild birds directive with Malta. Commissioner Wallström has undertaken to keep the Parliament informed of developments through the Environment Committee, and I update regularly the External Relations Committee of the Parliament on the development of accession negotiations. Written information was sent to the Chairman of the Committee in October 2002.

 

Yours sincerely,

      - signed -

Günter Verheugen