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ITCO, UNODC and GRECO say to European Commission: Open Up !

Strasbourg, 14 December 2016

Today, representatives from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) of the Council of Europe and the transparency intergroup of the European Parliament (ITCO) appeal on the European Commission to finally start reporting about its anti-corruption policies.

Co-chair of the ITCO-intergroup, Dennis de Jong: ́ We were told by the European Commission that early this year, the European Parliament would receive its second anti-corruption report. In the meantime, all we received was a disappointing letter from Vice-President Timmermans that the report would be submitted in due course and that it would not contain a section on the internal anti-corruption policies of the European institutions themselves. I therefore welcome the idea of asking GRECO to submit its evaluation on anti-corruption policies of the EU and its Member States, so that the Commission can finally make some pro gress in this regard ́.

The appeal also addresses the concerns of UNODC and GRECO. De Jong: ́I t is embarrassing that until now the Commission has refrained from participating in the Implementation Review Mechanism under the UN Convention against Corruption, to which the EU is a party. I praise the patience of UNODC and its offer the assist the Commission in this respect. I urge the Commission to step up its efforts and to set the right example to the international community, instead of lagging behind as it did until now. Similarly, the EP should receive as soon as possible a full legal analysis of the obstacles the Commission is facing in becoming a party to the GRECO-mechanism of the Council of Europe. Also in this regard, sw ift progress has to be made ́.

Appeal on European Commission: Open Up!

  1. We are concerned about the lack of progress made by the European Commission in respect of its reporting activities on anti-corruption policies and measures, not only of Member States, but also of the EU-institutions themselves.
  2. We are disappointed that the second anti-corruption report of the European Commission, originally due for early this year, has not come out yet and we call upon the Commission to provide the European Parliament with a comprehensive report, including measures taken by the EU-institutions themselves, without further delay.
  3. We invite the Commission to examine ways to speed up the preparations for EU-membership of GRECO, the Council of Europe ́s mechanism to monitor compliance of its members (including all EU Member States) with the organisation’s anti-corruption standards. Similarly, we call upon the Commission to speed up the preparations for its participation in the Implementation Review Mechanism of the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC). We understand that there may be legal obstacles to overcome, but we demand transparency in this respect and invite the Commission to publish a legal analysis of the problems and possible solutions.
  4. In the meantime, we invite the Commission to explore, together with GRECO, possibilities for developing a pilot project, in which the EU participates, on a purely voluntary basis, in GRECO ́s review process in order to become acquainted with the procedures.
  5. We note that the Commission stated as one of the reasons for not being able to report on anti-corruption policies and measures that it cannot really critically evaluate its own measures. We therefore invite GRECO to offer support in this respect by providing the Commission with a targeted evaluation.
  6. We recall that in its Resolution of 25 October 2016, the European Parliament called upon the Commission to meet its reporting obligations under the UN Convention against Corruption to which the EU has become a party, and also to do its utmost to contribute financially to the technical assistance programme of the UN in the context of the Convention.
  7. We welcome the offer made by UNODC to assist the Commission with fulfilling its reporting obligations and with participating in the Implementation Review Mechanism of the UNCAC, so that the Commission could make itself acquainted with the monitoring procedures.
  8. The Members of the European Parliament, participating in the Intergroup Integrity, Transparency, Corruption and Organised Crime stand ready to engage in a meaningful dialogue with the European Commission on all of these issues, together with representatives from the Council of Europe and the UNODC.

Joint appeal of the ITCO intergroup and the UNOCD.

Benedek Jávor talked to András Horváth a Hungarian whistleblower- exclusive video

On Monday Benedek Jávor MEP went to Luxembourg to support the whistleblowers on their trial in Luxembourg.

Benedek Jávor talked to András Horváth, a Hungarian whistleblower, who reported on the systematic tax evasion on the scale of 1000 billion forint and the Hungarian Tax Authorities’ (NAV)
attitude to turn blind eyes on multinational corporations’ tax evasion techniques.

You can see the video below (click for Enlgish subtitle).

More details on the event in Luxembourg here

Luxleaks trial and conference- whistleblower protection now!

Antoine Deltour, the whistleblower behind the LuxsLeaks scandal, was sentenced to 18 months suspended on first instance. On the second instance, the attorney asked for dispensation, the prosecutor for exasperation. The first day of the second instance trial was yesterday in Luxembourg, several members of Greens/EFA group were present. Jávor Benedek spoke in his defense (and that of his colleagues, Raphael Halet and journalist Edouard Perrin) on the solidarity protest.

However, Deltour’s story is not unique. Many whistleblowers are similarly facing various official and legal procedures, threats and others ways to annihilate their work and life. Four whistleblowers came to Luxembourg, including András Horváth, who reported on the systematic tax evasion on the scale of 1000 billion forint and the Hungarian Tax Authorities’ (NAV) blind eye towards the tax evasion techniques of multinational corporations. The lack of protection of whistleblowers does not only concern the whistleblowers, it also discourages others to make public those abuses they know about. Therefore the public’s interest is harmed. That is why we need strong, European-wide protection of whistleblowers. The Greens have prepared a draft for a whistleblower directive. The European Parliament has claimed at various times to support the creation of such a directive. Now it is time for the Commission and the Member states to make it happen.

Discussion between Benedek Jávor and András Horváth here.

More photos from the conference below:

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MEP Benedek Jávor’s written statement on the plenary debate of the Energy Winter Package

The Energy Winter Package would have been a unique opportunity to fill with content many of the promises on making the EU number one for renewables and world leader in tackling climate change. I must say: the Commission missed this opportunity. I see a general lack of ambition and the biggest market distortions being left unaddressed in the package.

First, it disregards the Paris agreement and slows down the EU’s efforts to limit global temperature increase to 1.5 C.

It doesn’t address the problems of overcapacity. It doesn’t address the loopholes in the Energy Efficiency Directive. It doesn’t stop backdoor subsidies for fossil fuels and nuclear. Instead, it allows financial flows to fossil fuel and protects the privileges of nuclear via capacity markets and the lack of a credible liability regime.

A mere 27% renewable target and the removal of priority access to new RES projects simply puts the brakes on the European energy transition. Governance and transparency about future support schemes are also weakened.

The new biofuels targets leave much room for bioenergy without effective measures to ensure it is sustainable.

This proposal is clearly insufficient and fails to take us to the needed transition in Europe’s energy systems.

Nature Directives: Commission commits to Action Plan to ensure full compliance

Following an orientation debate held today by the College of Commissioners, the European Commission has confirmed it will develop an Action Plan to improve implementation of the Birds and Habitats Directives (Nature Directives) and their coherence with other EU policies.

The Greens/EFA group – speaking with the same voice as NGOs and key Member States – has been advocating against opening the Directives up to revision, and has called instead for a focus on addressing enforcement problems.

After long delays in the refit process of the Directives, strongly criticised by the European Parliament, today’s orientation debate indicates that the Commission is finally willing to conclude the refit exercise and come up with the final results of the fitness check. The State of Nature report (1), also used in the process, makes it clear that EU enforcement action has been instrumental in better implementation of the Nature Directives so far. However, more needs to be done to ensure full compliance.

Commenting after today’s orientation debate, Greens/EFA MEP and Vice-Chair of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Benedek Jávor said:

“We very much welcome the commitment of the Commission to develop an Action Plan to correct the implementation deficiencies related to the Nature Directives. This is something that we have previously called for (2).

“It is important to go beyond guidelines and provide effective support to national and regional actors and improve environmental inspections, including through competence and capacity building and better allocation of resources.

“In order to ensure policy integration, we must also strengthen the environmental liability directive and make sure all infrastructural developments are fitted with proper environmental safeguards.

“Last, but not least, the EU cannot leave financing investments solely to local actors.  Biodiversity has to be mainstreamed in the EU budget beyond 2020, with natureconservation earmarked in each individual EU funding instrument as well as a dedicated biodiversity scheme. This would require further extension of the LIFE programme.”

(1) http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-15-4965_en.htm

(2) http://www.greens-efa.eu/eu-nature-legislation-16307.html

EU research grant scheme for investigative journalists – Press release

On 1 December, the European Parliament passed the 2017 budget of the EU. Due to an amendment by MEPs Benedek Jávor (Greens), Helga Trüpel (Greens), Petra Kammerevert (S&D) and Yana Toom (ALDE), it includes a 500.000 euro grant scheme for journalistic investigations into cases affecting at least two EU countries. The grant scheme will be implemented in the next three years as a preparatory action probably by the Leipzig based European Centre for Press and Media Freedom, in view of establishing a similar programme permanently. The independence and confidentiality of the proposed investigations will be fully respected.

The EP previously added a similar line to the budget in 2009, but then the programme never took off the ground. MEP Jávor made it one of his priorities to reinstate the programme ever since he took office in 2014, and to uncover the causes of the failure of the first attempt, to make sure that it will not default again.


(Image source: advancingthestory.com)