Tweets for birds

In the build-up to this week’s public hearings in the European Parliament of European Commission candidates, one of the issues I’ve most been contacted on by constituents is illegal bird hunting in Malta (thanks to the visibility brought to the issue by Springwatch’s Chris Packham). The many passionate emails and tweets I’ve received wanted to know whether the Maltese Commissioner-designate (Karmenu Vella), mooted as Environment Commissioner, intends to clamp down on illegal hunting, given that he is a former Maltese minister.

The issue of bird hunting (and in particular the better enforcement of the EU Birds Directive) was a well-visited topic in Vella’s hearing today, with many MEPs asking him questions on it. We got some surprisingly clear statements and promises out of him:

I am not a hunter and I condemn all illegal hunting. It is useless to enact new EU laws without fully implementing the existing ones, so I will do whatever it takes to make sure the directive is enforced equally across the EU.

The Commissioner-designate did hint that he would like to revisit the current legislation:

The EU Birds directive was a cornerstone in safeguarding Europe’s ecosystem, but it was adopted in 1979 and never revisited. I would like to revise the directive, taking into account scientific research advancements since then, without deregulating or weakening the existing directive.

Prior to the hearing, he had also stated in writing that he “will not hesitate to make full use of the Commission legal enforcement instruments to ensure compliance”.

Mr Vella’s clear commitment was good — and I doubt that any likely alternative Maltese nominee would do better — but as always, the devil will be in the detail of how well the directive is revised and enforced. I and many other MEPs will be watching carefully — and any revision of the directive will come before us, where a majority is likely to want to strengthen it.

Note to the reader: all quotes in italics were jotted down during the hearings and are not verbatim.

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  1. Hi,
    My understanding is as Chris Packam wrote at the weekend “stop a Maltese pro-hunter” If this is the case I think Mr Vella would be the wrong person for the job.

    In fact.

    In my opinion their isn’t a Maltese candidate who would be appropriate for the job until they clean their own house first.
    A full time ban on the slaughter of migratory birds flying over Malta is required before they can be trusted with Europe’s environmental issues.

    Yours concerned,

    Richard Siddall.

  2. As with most politicians, they often learn how to talk the talk, but fail to walk the walk. In this case a man with no real background or experience in environmental or marine industries or it’s politics is being given a top job in a dubbed ‘winning team’. One can only wonder, why?

    It’s not just concerns over Mr Vella’s links with pro hunting organisations – Incidentally, you will find this information Very interesting : in Section S/2013/99 in relation to a ‘sport’ gun & ammunition shop in Rabat, Malta and it’s links with shipping and arms destined to Libya.

    Not suggesting Mr Vella has had anything directly to do with this, however, it is a clear and alarming example of how Malta’s history in the shooting industry is perhaps more sinister than most of us would ever realize.
    It will be very interesting to follow his commitment to his new role and his input to this ‘winning team’. A man with a background in the construction industry. A civil engineer. Architect. A Stakeholder with links and dealings in multinational corporations. A business man who made his way into government by one way or another and more recently as a minister for tourism.
    Coincidentally, Malta has long history of environmental neglect since it’s independence 50 years ago including developments of supposedly protected areas for tourism and industry, some even resulting in species extinction.
    The arguments for concern over migratory birds and extinction is a real and valid one. Malta has a very bad history of disregard for ornithological concerns and has done nothing to prove otherwise.
    So all in all, considering the above, I do not trust that Karmenu Vella is necessarily the right person for this job. Never a good idea to give important departmental posts in government to someone who has also had numerous accusations of corruption against him, throughout his career.
    It is down the the people of Malta to take account of it’s history and neglect be this environmental damage, wildlife crimes or the neglect of not utilizing their rights as individuals to ensure their government is not abusing it’s freedoms.
    Of course, there is No such thing as the perfect government in any country. We all have plenty of ‘bad eggs’ with power. But if people care enough about what is good and right in society and care about what Malta represents and holds for themselves, future generations and it’s relationships with the rest of Europe and indeed, the World, they should work together to do something about it, to better it and exorcise their freedoms.
    Isn’t that what independence is all about?

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