Karmenu Vella, the candidate to be the EU's next Environment Commissioner, was faced with tough questions from MEPs today over what he will do to address the massacre of wild birds in his country of Malta, while TV presenter and environmental campaigner Chris Packham said EU rules on the protection of birds must be "defended at all costs."
Mr Vella has been tasked by Commission President Juncker with "re-evaluating" the EU's Birds Directive, a law that his home country of Malta has been found to be breaking by European courts.
Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder challenged Vella on what he will do to stop the illegal killing of migratory birds in Malta.
Mr Vella commented that he condemns illegal hunting in Malta, adding "I expect member states to implement all EU directives" and that "abuses shall not be tolerated."
Following the hearing, Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder commented:
"People want to see EU rules on protecting our wildlife properly enforced, not watered down.
"I will now be holding Mr Vella's feet to the fire and ensuring he lives up to his word - including on action to stop illegal bird-hunting in Malta.
"Any attempts to water down legislation that preserves Europe's biodiversity will be met by fierce opposition by me and other like-minded MEPs."
Chris Packham commented:
"Given his pro-hunting Maltese credentials, a lot of people are astonished Mr Vella was offered this post and are concerned about the implications this has for protecting and improving EU environmental law.
"The EU Birds Directive is a vital and hard-won framework for the protection of birds in Europe. It must be defended at all costs, without it Europe would be a far worse place. The last thing we want is any attempts to weaken or water it down.
"Myself and other conservationists are immensely grateful for Catherine Bearder and her colleagues' support. To see this issue recognised by MEPs is extremely heartening and shows the importance of using the democratic process to meet our collective aims."