Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Freeze EU funds to Malta, MEPs urged

Times of Malta - 23 April 2007

by Ivan Camilleri

A number of British MEPs have received e-mails urging them to push for extreme measures in opposition to spring hunting in Malta, such as the freezing of EU funds for the island.

Most of the MEPs are members of the Environment Committee of the European Parliament and include Sir Robert Atkins, Charles Tannock and Philip Brodbourn.

The two Nationalist MEPs, Simon Busuttil and David Casa, have received similar e-mails.

Sources close to the European Parliament said that similar wording was used in the e-mails and each one concluded with a plea to MEPs to try to freeze EU funds to Malta until spring hunting is stopped.

This may imply that "there is an orchestrated effort", one source said.

The Times has seen a number of the e-mails.

In one, a David Camilleri from Qala, describing himself as a bird enthusiast, tells British MEPs Charles Tannock and Philip Brodbourn, that the opening of the hunting season this spring is unacceptable and points out that "the situation is now making the EU look slow and ineffective".

"Urgent action is needed against Malta to safeguard against such an international perception. As Malta continues to ignore EU law, perhaps the time is now right for the EU to freeze funds to Malta until it comes into line with EU law and the Birds Directive," Mr Camilleri writes.

Dennis Weir, from Surrey in the UK, brands Mr Busuttil a "blood soaked hunter" and goes on to write that: "I will never visit Malta whilst this abominable situation continues. Wake up and take a look at what we are doing to the world. I shall be petitioning my MEP to boot you lot out of the EC."

A very similar message was sent by Simon Woolley from the UK to both Dr Busuttil and Mr Casa.

Criticising their recent intervention at the EP in favour of the government's position on hunting, Mr Wooley wrote: "I will continue with my efforts to discourage everyone I know from taking their holidays in your country - hopefully this small effort, in parallel with that of many others, will assist in damaging your country's tourist economy to an extent that your domestic lawmakers and police will see how far Malta is out of line with the opinion of normal people in the EU."

Last July, the European Commission started infringement procedures against Malta on the issue of spring hunting. The government replied a few weeks ago defending its position.

Unless there is agreement between the government and the EU, the issue is expected to be settled by the European Court of Justice.