I hereby express my concern on the European Commission’s one-size-fits-all approach with the drafting of the definition of wetlands. Malta’s geo-demographic structure would mean such restrictions would go beyond the scope and original intent of the proposal.
I’ve addressed the plenary session of the European Parliament after voting in favour of a Resolution tabled by the European Conservatives and Reformists group aimed at reversing the Commission Annex to a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) regarding lead in gunshot in or around wetlands. .
Stakeholders, in particular hunting associations, raised several reservations about the Commission measures, mainly related to the definition of wetlands, the size of buffer zones around wetlands, enforcement, especially the presumption of guilt for persons carrying the lead gunshot, the existence of alternatives, and the applicability of REACH restrictions to consumers.
I’m in agreement with the main argument behind the scope of the Commission proposal to replace lead in ammunition, as this will bring a wide range of environmental benefits, not only for the countryside, but also to human health, food safety and food markets. However, the proposal in its current format is fundamentally flawed.
To start with, the proposal removes the presumption of innocence and reverses the burden of proof. A person found in possession of lead gunshot within a 100-metre buffer zone to “wetland” must prove that the ammunition is intended to be used other than in a wetland or buffer zone. This goes too far and should be revised.
Such an approach fails to apply the principle of proportionality. The content and form of the action proposed in the Regulation must be in keeping with the aim pursued.
The vote in Plenary for the Resolution was close with 292 voting in favour of the objection, 362 against and 39 abstaining. All six Maltese MEPs voted in favour of the objection.