Language of document :

Action brought on 8 March 2019 – European Commission v Republic of Finland

(Case C-217/19)

Language of the case: English


Applicant: European Commission (represented by: C. Hermes, E. Ljung Rasmussen, Agents)

Defendant: Republic of Finland

The applicant claims that the Court should:

declare that by recurrently granting authorizations for spring hunting of male Common Eiders (Somateria mollissima) in the province of Åland since 2011, the Republic of Finland has failed to fulfil its obligations under Article 7(4) and 9(l)(c) of Directive 2009/147/EC1 of the European parliament and of the Council of 30 November 2009 on the conservation of wild birds;

order Republic of Finland to pay the costs.

Pleas in law and main arguments

Since 2011, the regional government of the Åland Islands, an autonomous region in Finland, has recurrently each year authorized “derogation spring hunting” of male Common Eider ducks with a total quota of 2000 to 3800 birds during two to three weeks in May. This time period coincides with the period of reproduction of Common Eiders.

Article 7(4) of Directive 2009/147/EC prohibits hunting during the period of reproduction.

Finland claims that the spring hunting of Common Eiders in the Åland Islands is justified by the derogation provision of Article 9(1)(c) of Directive 2009/147/EC. According to the case-law of the Court, Member States bear the burden of proof for establishing that the conditions of this provision are met.

The Commission considers that Finland, first, has not established that the derogation regime constitutes "judicious use" within the meaning of Article 9(1)(c) of Directive 2009/147/EC. Finland has, in particular, not substantiated with sound scientific evidence that it is ensured that the relevant population of Common Eider ducks is maintained at a satisfactory level.

Secondly, Finland has not demonstrated that the authorized spring hunting only concerns the use of birds “in small numbers” pursuant to Article 9(1)(c) of Directive 2009/147/EC.


1 Directive 2009/147/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 November 2009 on the conservation of wild birds (OJ 2010, L 20, p. 7)