Answer given by Mr Breton on behalf of the European Commission
The Commission does not consider that an arable field covered by snow fulfils the definition of wetland as laid down in the draft Regulation restricting lead shot in or around wetlands. That field would be considered a wetland if the terrain under the snow fulfils the definition of a wetland (e.g. a peatland).
In the Commission’s view the definition of wetlands in the proposed Regulation is clear. It is a duty of a shooter to ensure that he or she is not breaching the law by checking whether he or she is within 100 m of a wetland.
Concerning guidance, Union law should always be interpreted proportionately and in accordance with the objectives of the relevant legislation, in this case the objective of the restriction, the protection of birds. The definition of wetlands must therefore also be interpreted in this manner.
Although the authoritative interpretation of EC law can only be provided by the European Court of Justice, the Commission might, for complex legal frameworks, consider issuing Guidelines or providing Member States with specific guidance on some provisions.
However, in the present case, the Commission considers that national authorities are best placed to take into account the specificities of the different territories and to issue guidance to their enforcement authorities or to stakeholders on how the definition of wetlands, as laid down in the draft Regulation, should be correctly interpreted, in line with the objectives of the measure and the principle of proportionality.
After adoption of the restriction, the Commission might ask the European Chemicals Agency to provide training on this topic for enforcement authorities in the Member States.