On June 20, the EU Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that Malta broke EU law by allowing the hunting and trapping of wild finch species. The ECJ declared that Malta failed to fulfill its obligations under the European Wild Birds Directive by adopting a derogation regime that allowed the live-capturing of seven species of wild finches. Finch-trapping was once common across Europe, but the introduction of the EU's Wild Birds Directive, which aims to conserve avian species and prevent habitat destruction, has effectively rolled back the practice.
On September 24, 2015, the European Commission referred Malta to the European Union’s top court because of its annual spring hunt of finches. These birds cross Malta’s territory during their spring migration across the Mediterranean from Africa to their breeding grounds in Europe. Hunting birds in the spring is prohibited in the EU, but Malta requests an exemption each year. This past April, voters in Malta passed a referendum that supported the continuation of spring hunts.