European Court of Justice AG Opinion recommends action against Malta on finch trapping

European Court of Justice Advocate General Tamara Ćapeta has recommended the Court should find that Malta’s derogation allowing live capture of finches breaches EU law.

In an Opinion delivered today, Ćapeta says Malta has failed to observe its obligations under EU law and to order that the Republic of Malta bear its own costs and pay those incurred by the European Commission.

BirdLife Malta welcomed the ECJ AG Opinion and said it now looked forward to the Court ruling “against the smokescreen finch ‘scientific research’ trapping derogation once and for all”.

The environmental organisations said the ECJ AG’s Opinion sent a clear message that Malta should end this cruel practice of trapping songbirds until they perished.

“In view of today’s developments, we call on the government not to open another trapping season this year, before the ECJ delivers its final ruling since it is now clear that applying this derogation in the past years was in breach of European law,” Birdlife added.

The activists said the ECJ AG Opinion was a clear indication BirdLife Malta was correct in all its arguments against “this shameful derogation” and that it had given the right advice to the ORNIS Committee and to the government itself not to breach the Birds Directive of the European Union (EU).

“Such demands were purposely negated and rejected for political gain, to allow those that enjoyed bird trapping to continue doing so, albeit under a smokescreen. Once again, it should now be clear to present and future governments that political gain does not justify any derogations from the European Birds Directive and that science and respect for nature should be the basis of all future decisions,” they said.

In December 2020, infringement proceedings were launched against Malta on finch trapping following the Maltese government’s attempt to disguise the practice as a research project despite a landmark 2018 judgement that found Malta guilty on all main counts of failing to fulfil its obligations under EU law, ordering a complete ban on finch trapping in the Maltese Islands.

Despite this clear verdict, in 2020 and yet again in 2021, 2022 and 2023, the government opened a trapping season for finches with the excuse that trappers would be carrying out a scientific study, with trappers expected to release the birds soon after they catch them, after recording details of birds carrying a ring and submitting the information to the Wild Birds Regulation Unit (WBRU).

The opening of the season in 2020 kickstarted fresh legal action against Malta by the European Commission. Birdlife Malta’s findings have estimated that just in the 2023 season, around 51,400 finches were taken from the wild as a result of the derogation.

Pointing to the consequences of decisions taken to open the season by Minister Clint Camilleri, the organisation appealed to voters on 8 June not to choose candidates for the European Parliament elections making “populist promises” that go against EU rules, such as Labour candidate Alex Agius Saliba and PN candidate Peter Agius.


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23 days ago

Europe is just wasting time, Malta has lost all the cases with the European court, but nothing changes, it still continues to sell passports, it still continues to help Maltese car sellers, with car registrations at very high costs, on this island the laws do not exist or better they only exist for some

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