On 8 February, in Case C-149/94, Ministère Public v. Didier Vergy, the Court was asked for a preliminary ruling on the interpretation of Directive 79/409/EEC of 2 April 1979 on the conservation of wild birds (the Birds Directive). The Court was asked whether the Birds Directive precluded member states from limiting or prohibiting trade in specimens belonging to a species of bird that is not listed in the annexes to the Directive, whether the Directive was also applicable to specimens of birds born and reared in captivity, and whether member states were required to ensure the protection of species whose natural habitat is not in the member state concerned.
The Court held that the Birds Directive did require a member state to prohibit trade in the specimens, in so far as the species concerned was a species of naturally occurring birds in the wild state in the European territory of the member state to which the Treaty applies. This obligation, however, was subject to the possibility of derogation under the conditions set out in Art. 9 of the Directive (see Case C-118/94, Associazione per il World Wild Fund and Others v. Regione Veneto, reported below). The Court also ruled that the Directive was not applicable to specimens of birds hatched and reared in captivity, but that member states were required to ensure the protection of wild birds even if their natural habitat was not in the territory of the member state concerned.
In Case C-118/94, Associazione per il World Wild Fund and Others v. Regione Veneto, decided on 7 March, the Court was concerned with the interpretation of Art. 9 of the Birds Directive. The question was raised in proceedings brought by WWF Italiana and other nature protection associations against Regione Veneto, supported by the Italian Hunting Federation, for annulment of the measures adopted by the Regional Council of Veneto fixing the hunting calendar for the 1992/ 1993 season for infringement, inter alia, of the principles in the Directive. The Court affirmed that Art. 9 of the Directive authorizes member states to derogate from the general prohibition on hunting protected species established by Art. 5 and 7 of the Directive, but only by measures that refer in sufficient detail to the reasons mentioned in Art. 9(1), such as public health and safety, prevention of serious damage to agriculture, and the protection of fauna and flora.
In Case C-44/95, Regina v. Secretary of State for the Environment ex parte Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the Court was faced with two questions regarding Art. 2 of the Birds Directive and the relationship between Art. 2 and Art. 4, as amended by Art. 6(4) of Directive 92/42/EEC (the Habitats Directive). The first question was whether a member state was entitled to take account of "economic and recreational requirements" (Art. 2, Birds