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 Margot
Wallström? Email/Fax addresses are:
Fax: +32 2 2981899
Postal address as in reply below]
OF BIRDS ON MALTA IS A EUROPEAN ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEM
Commissioner for the Environment
Rue de la Loi 200 / Wetstraat 200
09 December 2002
received a response from Commissioner Verheugen concerning our campaign against the exceptions granted to Malta for spring
hunting in the EU accession negotiations. We have replied to Mr. Verheugen; but wish to enlist your support for further clarification
of the matter; and an assurance of positive action to ensure that, in future, Malta complies in full with the relevant EU
that trapping and caging of finches on Malta will continue over the next seven years is a sad reflection on the modern social
ethic and respect for nature which the European Union, and you in particular as Commissioner for the Environment, represent..
The continuing perversion of breeding captive strains of naturally occurring species to the same end is unacceptable. It is
inconceivable that such practices, with EU concurrence, should be encouraged after 2011. Please reconsider your position on
Verheugen has also stated that the derogation for spring hunting of turtle doves and quail is subject to "strict conditions".
These species 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?
also assured us 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. We are very sceptical about this assurance for the following reasons.
Up to now,
the Maltese government has proved incapable of monitoring its own hunting population. Visiting tourists and conservationists
have witnessed this slaughter at first hand regularly. The hunters go about their bloody business openly, even arrogantly;
and are abusive and threatening to those they perceive as opponents. They massacre, twice a year, large numbers of protected
bird species, across 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? As active 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 alone has either
the will or resources to ensure that this barbaric and illegal spectacle becomes a thing of the past.. Skilled, independent
and dedicated individuals could help to redress this balance.
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.
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 capitulation to the strident 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
that you, as the responsible EU commissioner, show a more positive reaction to our concerns for the conservation of the European
environmental heritage: for all European citizens - and for our descendants.
and the following members of the Proact Team representing