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C 222 E/40 Official Journal of the European Union EN 18.9.

2003

In relation to the particular events mentioned in the present question, it is confirmed that the State-run
Vietnamese Newspaper Cong An Nhan Dan (Peoples Police) has published a report on the sentencing of
Mr Rlan Loa, by a court in Gia Lai Province on 1 August 2002 following a ‘public-open trial’, to nine years
in prison to be followed by five years’ house arrest, for illegally leaving the country to fight against the
Government of Vietnam. The report described Mr Rlan Loa as a supporter of the establishment of an
independent state in the Central Highlands of Vietnam and alleged that he had been in contact with a non-
Vietnamese advocate of Central Highlanders’ rights.

It has not been possible to obtain any confirmation of the ‘arrest’ and deportation from Cambodia of
Mr Rlan Loa, or of any other action to prevent him from seeking ‘political refugee’ status. It is confirmed,
however, that the status granted to Vietnamese Montagnards in Cambodia by the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is that of ‘refugees’ and not that of ‘political refugees’.

The Commission, together with the diplomatic missions of the Union, will continue to follow closely the
developments concerning the situation of the Vietnamese Montagnards, both in Cambodia and in the
Central Provinces of Vietnam, and take appropriate action.

(1) OJ C 137 E, 12.6.2003, p. 102.


(2) OJ C 192 E, 14.8.2003, p. 81.

(2003/C 222 E/045) WRITTEN QUESTION E-3036/02


by Dorette Corbey (PSE) to the Commission

(24 October 2002)

Subject: Nature conservation in Malta

On 31 March 1998 accession negotiations were started with six applicant countries  Hungary, Poland,
Estonia, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Cyprus. On 13 October 1999 the Commission recommended
Member States to open negotiations with Romania, the Slovak Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria and
Malta. Nature conservation legislation, such as the Wild Birds and Habitats Directives, is included in the list
of priority tasks. The EU has underlined from the very beginning of the negotiations that transitional
measures will not be granted on nature conservation.

Recently the Times of Malta (22 August 2002) reported that Malta had managed to reach agreement with
the Commission that would guarantee that the tradition of hunting and trapping of songbirds would
remain alive and sustainable.

1. Can the Commission confirm that no exemptions or transitional measures have been granted to the
accession countries concerning the Wild Birds and Habitats Directives?

2. Can the Commission confirm that an agreement has been reached with Malta allowing hunting and
trapping of songbirds after accession?

3. If exemptions or transitional measures have been granted how, when and by whom was this decided
and how and when did the Commission inform the European Parliament about this agreement?

4. If they have, which provisions of the Wild Birds Directive are affected by the transitional measures
concerned?

5. Can the Commission confirm that it will closely monitor the situation in the accession countries as
regards the correct implementation and effective enforcement of the Wild Birds and Habitats Directives?
18.9.2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 222 E/41

Answer given by Mrs Wallström on behalf of the Commission

(29 November 2002)

With the environment chapter in the accession negotiations provisionally closed for 10 candidate
countries, one transitional measure has been agreed by the Council for Malta in the application of
Directive 79/409/EEC of 2 April 1979, on the conservation of wild birds, hereafter ‘Birds Directive’ (1).
No exemptions from the requirements of the Directive have been given and there are no transition periods
granted to any candidate country under Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992, on the conservation of
natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora, hereafter ‘Habitats Directive’ (2).

In agreeing to the recent Union Common Position on the environmental chapter Malta has accepted to
fully transpose and implement the Birds Directive by the date of accession. This means that bird hunting in
Malta can, as from accession, only take place within the limits provided for by the Directive. Article 9 of
this Directive allows, where there is no other satisfactory solution, for exceptions under certain very
stringent conditions. If Malta wishes to allow spring hunting, for instance in relation to turtle dove and
quail, it would need to ensure that all the requirements of Article 9 are met and that any permitting is
carried out under ‘strictly supervised conditions’ and limited to ‘small numbers’ only. Furthermore, the use
of Article 9 is subject to monitoring by the Commission and Malta is committed, in such a case, to report
each year on its possible use.

As regards the specific issue of trapping, Malta is committed to ensuring full transposition by accession
and full respect of the provisions on trapping, even if in the short-term they need to be phased-in over a
strictly limited time. A transitional period until 31 December 2008 regarding Articles 5(a), 5(e), 8(1) and
Annex IV(a) of the Directive was granted by the Council and accepted by Malta at the Accession
Conference of 1 October 2002. The transition period allows Malta to employ traditional method of
trapping known as clap-nets for the capture of seven finch species in view of establishing a captive
breeding system.

In the past two months, the Commission has answered several written questions from the Parliament
related to the negotiations on the Birds Directive with Malta. The Member of the Commission responsible
for the Environment has undertaken to keep the Parliament informed of developments through the
Environment Committee. The Directorate General for Enlargement has sent updates on the accession
negotiations to the Chairman of the External Relations Committee of the Parliament, in April 2002 and
October 2002.

The Commission can confirm that it will closely monitor the situation in the accession countries as regards
the correct implementation and enforcement of the Birds and Habitats Directives.

It should be recognised that the accession of Malta to the Union will provide a greatly strengthened
framework for bird protection on the island by bringing it into conformity with the common standards
defined in the Birds Directive and already applied in all Member States.

(1) OJ L 103, 25.4.1979.


(2) OJ L 206, 22.7.1992.

(2003/C 222 E/046) WRITTEN QUESTION E-3045/02


by Paulo Casaca (PSE) to the Commission

(24 October 2002)

Subject: Hospital privatisation in Portugal

The newspaper ‘Diário Económico’ reported on 15 October 2002 that Portugal’s draft budget for 2003
includes a heading to the sum of EUR 662,1 million for the ‘privatisation of public hospitals’.

Reports publicly circulating suggest that the Commission has refused to endorse the inclusion in the
budget of capital transfers to public transport enterprises, on the grounds that such transfers are intended
to cover social costs and are not profit-seeking investments.