The EU Commission has given its final and categorical opinion regarding the proposed derogation for the selective hunting of ambelopoulia, the so called ‘alternative plan’, which the Cyprus Government included unilaterally in the Strategic Plan against illegal bird trapping which was approved last May 2015. According to a newspaper article (2 January 2016), Mr Enrico Brivio, a press officer of the Commission, highlighted that ‘…the Commission is concerned about the inclusion of this ‘alternative plan’, which creates the possibility for granting derogations for bird trapping.This is a measure that cannot be accepted according to the EU legislation…’.
In a similar tone, Mr Brivio made an official announcement on behalf of the Commission on 15 December 2015 regarding this issue, stating that ‘…this is an option that cannot be justified on the basis of EU legislation…the enactment of such a derogation would trigger the need for the Commission to take appropriate measures’. In this specific announcement, the press officer also mentioned that the Commission had written to the Cyprus Government in August 2015 (read relevant e-news article), making clear that ‘the alternative plan’ derogation cannot be permitted as the criteria set out by the European Birds Directive are not met.
And although the Commission has made it clear to the Cyprus Government that such a derogation cannot be permitted under the requirements of the Birds Directive, we have not heard whether the Cyprus Government is intending to remove the ‘alternative plan’ from the Strategic Plan. BirdLife will continue to lobby the Cyprus Government to remove this derogation from the Strategic Plan and to start its implementation, which has been pending for more than 2 years now.