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EU Whistleblower Directive – Germany, France, Netherlands and others must stop blocking progress

The proposed EU Whistleblower Protection Directive is supposed to have the last trilogue negotiation, between the European Commission, Council and Parliament on the 4th of March. However, progress on the file is currently being blocked by Austria, France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands, which threatens to derail the entire process.

Benedek Jávor, Greens/EFA spokesperson on transparency and democracy, comments:

“It’s sad to see countries like the Netherlands, Austria and France claiming to support whistleblowers at home while blocking progress at the EU-level in Brussels. The Social Democrats appear Janus-faced on the Directive with their MEPs supporting external reporting for whistleblowers, but their Justice Minister in Germany, Katarina Barley, appears to be trying to undermine the purpose of the Directive by forcing potential whistleblowers to first report wrong-doing within their own organisation. This would mean individuals will feel less able to speak out against their own employers. 

“Whistleblowers need to be able to come forward to the media and other external trusted actors, otherwise they will not feel safe or protected. It’s time for all the countries blocking whistleblower protection to see that the winds have changed and that the freedom for individuals to expose corruption, wrong doing and illegality is essential to a healthy democracy.”

Can the EU do more for a healthy media sector?

On 23rd January we organised a conference together with Fondation Euractiv about the media sector. What can the EU do to support independent journalists? What is a role of the media sector in a democracy? Can we do more to help the innovation of the media?

Healthy democracies need a healthy media sector. Yet, faced with multiple attacks and challenges, notably technological and financial, the sector needs a coordinated response. This conference gathered 80+ participants from EU Digital and Media sector. Media independence for quality debates: This first exchange was focused on media independence and freedom of the press in Europe, moderated by Stephen Boucher, with MEP and Benedek Jávor (Greens/EFA), RSF, and other high-level speakers from the media, foundations and NGOs. Keynote speech: Digital Commissioner Mariya Gabriel What can the EU do for the media sector’s sustainability: This second panel was moderated by Christophe Leclercq and bring together key MEPs, notably Maria Joao Rodrigues (S&D), academics, industry representatives, foundations and NGOs.

Corporate Europe Observatory report on Council lobbying

Today, a new report from Corporate Europe Observatory: “Captured states: when EU governments are a channel for corporate interests” reveals that the complex and opaque nature of decisions made in the Council of Ministers often benefits corporate interests over those of citizens.

The report comes nearly a week after the European Parliament voted to improve its own transparency standards around lobbying. Since November 2014, the European Commission has displayed information about the lobby meetings of Commissioners and high level officials on the Transparency Register. The Greens/EFA group are calling for similar rules to be adopted by the permanent representations of national governments to the EU and for more transparency around Council meetings.

Benedek Jávor, transparency spokesperson for the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament comments:

“Today’s report from Corporate Europe Observatory shows that decisions between EU governments may be made under the influence of lobbyists and not in the interest of people. Too often the EU gets a bad rap for decisions being made behind closed doors with lobbyists holding too much sway over what is decided in Brussels. However, often what happens in Brussels, doesn’t start in Brussels, it comes from the secretive interactions between big business and national governments. What is in the interest of large corporations is not always in the interest of European citizens, which is why we need transparency around the lobbying of EU governments, both in Brussels and in the national capitals.”

Read The report by Corporate Europe Observatory

The #TruthNeedsFriends Campaign

People who expose the truth nowadays are harassed, demoted, fired, or sued by employers who are desperate to silence them. Also known as “whistleblowers”, these people speak up to defend our rights, but when they say something their bosses don’t like, they suffer fierce retaliation.

The good news is that all of this could soon become a thing of the past: The European Union is on the verge of adopting a new law that would protect people who tell the truth and punish the bullies that are trying to shut them up.

But we need to make sure that the law is done right! People who tell the truth shouldn’t be punished. So please join our campaign and put pressure on your government – because the #TruthNeedsFriends.

About the #TruthNeedsFriends Campaign

We have a massive opportunity to end the fear, silence, loneliness and bullying that some people suffer from just for telling the truth. The European Union should soon adopt new legislation that will change the lives of people who reveal the truth about illegalities, corrupt practices and other dodgy dealings – otherwise known as whistleblowers

The first of its kind, the new European Whistleblower Directive would oblige all 27* EU governments to introduce minimum standards of protection for truth-tellers.

These protections would include penalties for people that retaliate against whistleblowers or try to shut them up; an obligation for public and private bodies to set up channels for receiving reports and to keep the identity of the whistleblower confidential; and legal shields for whistleblowers so that, if for example they breach a confidentiality agreement, they would not be held liable for it.

A law like this could eventually overturn the strong social norm that we learn as we get older: If you want to stay out of trouble, keep your head down and your mouth shut. But this social norm is what allows people with no shame to “get away with it”: whether it be marketing horse meat as beef, sexually abusing the people you’re supposed to protect, or spying on everyone in the world.

Punishing people who tell the truth is not only unfair, it’s a perversion of the values that we were all brought up with as children. We cannot allow the corrupt – desperate to cover their tracks – to starting firing, demoting, harassing or suing the only person who cared enough to tell the uncomfortable truth.

We want a world in which the truth has nothing to fear.

So far, the European Parliament has been the strongest in defending the right to the truth. Now, the Parliament has to negotiate with the European Commission and the Council (where all the EU governments are represented) in order to draft the final version of the much-awaited whistleblower protection law. It’s a race against time to get it adopted before the upcoming European Parliament elections.

Unfortunately, not all governments are fully convinced about the possibility of allowing people like us, or your colleagues or family members, to break the silence. And that’s why we’re launching the #TruthNeedsFriends campaign.

The #TruthNeedsFriends campaign seeks to motivate people to stand up to the bullies of the adult world who seek to hide the truth. By sharing the video and tagging our government representatives on social media, we are letting them know that we want to defend the truth and to protect the people who speak up.

The future of whistleblowers across Europe is hanging in the balance – which is why the truth really needs a lot of friends right now. Friends like you!

Find out more about our work on whistleblowers here:




Forests at the heart of Sustainable Development

Join us for a high-level conference on Forests at the heart of Sustainable Development this Thursday, the 7th of February 2019, 9.00 – 12.30, European Parliament room A1G-3

organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nation (FAO) and myself, together with MEPs Heidi Hautala (Greens/EFA); José Inácio Faria (EPP); Sirpa Pietikäinen (EPP) and Jo Leinen (S&D) with input of the IUCN, FERN, WWF, the World Bank and others. Programme available here.


The global goals for sustainable development to combat hunger, to stabilize our climate, to ensure a decent life for all. So much talk about it. But how to deliver on them?

Our answer is: Do protect the forests.

The aim of our event is to demonstrate how import forest are in the struggle to achieve SDGs and to show the other side of the coin: how deforestation jeopardizes all the benefits, including efforts to improve governance, accountability and equality.

We come together not just to pile up an amount of concern, but we address the core issues and take a close look at the possible ways forward, see how both the obvious and the more hidden deforestation risks to SDGs could be tackled.

Welcome coffee available at 8.30. Keynote speeches from Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries and Maria Helena Semedo, FAO Deputy Director-General for Climate and Natural Resources and video message from Phil Hogan, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development.

Light lunch to be served at 12.30. Detailed programme below.

The event will be webstreamed.


MEPs vote for new rules on lobbying in major victory for transparency

The European Parliament has just voted for binding rules for more transparency around MEPs’ meetings with lobbyists and seized the opportunity to the amended Rules of Procedure through the “Corbett Report”. The report calls for stricter rules around rapporteurs and other MEPs in other official positions to disclose their meetings with interest representatives on the Transparency Register. Benedek Jávor and the Greens/EFA group has been calling for these actions for years. Mr. Jávor believes that all lobby meetings are need to be published in a searchable database to ensure the transparency and the integrity of the legislative procedures.  He has been disclosing his lobby meetings on his website, which is available here.

The Parliament also voted in favour of stricter use of MEPs’ General Expenditure Allowance (GEA). Mr. Jávor is publishing regularly his expenditures which you can see here.

In an extremely unusual steps the Hungarian Fidesz MEP Mr. József Szájer of EPP group had pushed through a secret ballot on the new transparency rules. They tried to hide their opinion, but an overwhelming majority of MEPs 380 votes in favour of more transparency.