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.
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 Malta's respect of its commitments in this area.
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.
The PROACT reply - sent by email and post 09.12.2002
[Why not send an individual reply - or use the text below - to Günter
Verheugen? Email/Fax addresses are:
Fax: +32 2 2981199
Postal address as in reply below]
- PLEASE ADDRESS THE REAL PROBLEM
Commissioner for Enlargement
Rue de la Loi 200 / Wetstraat 200
9 December 2002
for your response to one of our members concerning our campaign against the exceptions granted to Malta for spring hunting in the EU accession negotiations. It
is refreshing to know that not all such negotiations are purely economic in nature, and we appreciate your attention and concern.
Our concerns however are far from dispelled by your reply.
that over the next seven years Maltese trappers will continue to trap the same species of small birds (seven species of finch)
which fly around in our gardens at home and land on our feeders. These birds will be kept in small cages with little room
to move, often poorly fed and watered, and sold on the market in Valetta and other towns. The rest of their life will be spent
on balconies or indoors singing for the pleasure of their 'owners'. The song can be enjoyed, and would be heard more frequently,
if these birds were left in their natural environment. As to the perversion of breeding captive strains of naturally occurring
species to the same end after 2011, which is what you and the other European governments are agreeing to, I leave that to
your consciences. Please reconsider your stance on this matter.
that in a derogation, to which all member states are entitled, the EU has clearly spelt out the "strict conditions" for the
'taking' of turtledove and quail. Turtle dove and quail are on the Red List in several European countries; why exactly should
Malta be granted
a derogation? Just because they ask for one? And what are the strict conditions? What concession is Malta obliged to give for such a derogation?
you that the Commission will avail itself of all the means at its disposal in order to monitor closely Malta's respect of its commitments in this area."
Up to now,
the Maltese government has proved incapable of monitoring its own hunting community. Visiting tourists and conservationists
have witnessed this slaughter regularly at first hand. The hunters go about their bloody business openly , even arrogantly;
and are abusive and threatening to those they perceive as opponents. Their bag - shot legally and illegally - includes large
numbers of protected bird species -
the whole countryside as well as in the few nature reserves. How does the EU
plan to combat the apathy of the local government and their patent lack of control resources? We herewith offer the services
of our organisation, or alternatively its individual members as concerned and informed ornithologists, as part of an identifiable
EU monitoring team during the migration windows on Malta. Because, as I inferred above, this is what it is all about.
European environmentalists, who have followed events on Malta over many years, we do not believe that the Maltese hunters
will stop slaughtering migrating birds just because Malta is in the EU. Nor do we believe that the Maltese government has
either the will or resources to ensure that this barbaric and illegal spectacle becomes a thing of the past. We had hoped,
that by banning ALL hunting during spring migration, the EU would send a strong signal to Malta and other European states.
Instead, we fear that exactly the opposite will occur and that other current and prospective member states will seek similar
exceptions. This will inevitably lead to the watering down of the EU Bird and Habitat Directives. Terms that are often bandied
about in EU committee circles such as 'small numbers' and 'sustainable exploitation' are disingenuous, dangerous and a sop
to the vociferous hunting minority..
of our European environment, with its dwindling natural resources, cannot tolerate any further inroads. Hunting for sustenance
or livelihood in our climes and society has long been a thing of the past. Hunting for sport or pleasure does not fit in with
today's modern global ethic and is potentially disastrous for the survival of our planet as other than a cultivated or industrialised
hope of a more positive reaction to our concerns for the conservation of our European environment, for us and our descendants'
heritage, we remain,
and the following members of the Proact Team representing