This weekend Malta narrowly voted to reject a spring hunting ban to protect migratory birds flying to Northern Europe.
The outcome was won on a razor-thin margin with just 50.4 per cent of people voting against the ban.
Malta has long faced criticism of its hunting tradition and has repeatedly been found in breach of the EU Birds Directive, which protects migratory birds, last revised in 2009.
The EU’s new Environment Commissioner who is charged with the task of enforcing the Birds Directive, is the former Tourism Minister for Malta, Karmenu Vella.
Before he was appointed, Catherine Bearder MEP, a long-term campaigner for birds, questioned Mr Vella on how he was going to enforce the Birds Directive including in his own country. He replied that the Commission had launched a formal infringement procedure to determine the next step.
The Leaders of both of the main parties in Malta both refused to come out in support of the ban.
Mrs Bearder commented: “This was a huge gamble by the Maltese government and shows that they have no regard for their membership of the EU.
“The EU prohibits the hunting of migratory birds and as a member Malta has to comply – the fact that they have voted in a referendum doesn’t change that, member countries cannot pick and choose which legislation they obey.
“The legislation is there for a reason: to protect migratory birds. It breaks my heart to see men cheering that they can continue to kill these vulnerable species.
"Commissioner Vella has repeatedly said he will ensure the Birds Directive is properly enforced in his own country. He must now live up to his word."