Támogasd Te is küzdelmünket a zöld és igazságos jövőért!

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

A New Ambiton for Water Resources in Europe

Global pressure is mounting around water resources. The World Economic Forum continues to rank water crises as one of the greatest threats to developing and developed states’ economies—let alone their population’s security. The alarm has been raised and Europe has received the message; the European Union must do its part to turn a crisis into an opportunity. This is the underlying message of a Commission that is curently reviewing its directive on drinking water as well as proposing a new regulation on water reuse. It is a message of positive nature though, one that is set against a fragile timeline. The issues are interdisciplinary in a way that they involve experts from a variety of fields coming together to propose cost-effective and sustainable solutions to the use and valuing of water resources across Europe. Not necessarily under a strict hierarchy, the European Union is committed to tackling drinking water quality, water management and infrastructure, energy generation and the water nexus, among others. The situation is as such: urban infrastructure is outdated or deteriorating, the current management tools are inefficient or even wasteful and water consumption in the energy sector, to name a critical area, undermines efforts to move to renewables. The strengthen this image, the McKinsey Global Institute estimates €10,3 trillion is required to invest solely in infrastructure to meet global water demands by 2030. The burden on European states is significant in light of ageing infrastructure and agricultural intensive economies—the solutions will require investment at a time when interest rates are low and consumption ever-growing.


PDF version of the issue: A-New-Ambiton-for-Water-Resources-in-Europe-issue-55

Roma Week 2018: Video

During the week of International Roma Day, marked on 8 April, the European Parliament hosts Roma Week. This year’s Roma Week continued to build on a report that the European Parliament adopted in October 2017: “Fundamental rights aspects in Roma integration in the EU: Fighting Anti-Gypsyism.”

MEP Benedek Jávor discusses the aims of the week in this video


In a press release, MEP Benedek Jávor stated:

In spite of a lot of efforts, number of documents and money spent from EU sources, exclusion is still everyday reality for most of our Roma fellow-citizens throughout the EU. In some Member States we are simply not effective enough with our integration projects, in some others governments bring back shadows of the past declaring that integration is not possible. But we cannot give up our vision of a just, equal and inclusive Europe, based on fundamental rights and values. Together with Roma communities, activists and civil society we have to continue our work to make this dream come true. With the Roma Week we aim to celebrate together Roma culture as an important part of our colourful Europe, but also to point out the problems and shortcomings we have, to find better and better solutions.”


For the conference, MEP Benedek Jávor invited Thorsten Afflerbach, Head of Division for the Roma and Travellers Team, who addressed the participants of the event “From Quality Education to Decent Employment“.  In the Panel “Access to Decent Employment“ he presented the recommendations on facilitating the transiting from education to employment for the Roma youth.


Additional aims for the weeks conference are outlined in the agenda.

1. Recognition of anti-Gypsyism: An opportunity for experts and activists on the issue to advocate European and national policymakers to strengthen the recognition of anti-Gypsyism as well as develop strategic and coherent responses.

2. Advocacy for specific thematic areas: Such as Roma Framework and its renewal post 2020.

3. Networking and knowledge exchange: To facilitate exchange, build capacity of activists, and inspire similar activities in Member States.


Source: https://www.coe.int/en/web/portal/roma/-/asset_publisher/GYHQssTIzR6h/content/council-of-europe-contributes-to-eu-roma-week-2018?inheritRedirect=false
Source: https://feministinitiative.eu/2018/04/04/the-third-eu-roma-week-will-take-place-in-brussels-starting-on-8th-of-april-international-roma-day/



“A decision as important for Europe as it is for Hungary” – Benedek Jávor on the Sargentini Report

Interview On 12 September the European Parliament voted in favour of starting procedures against the Hungarian government for breaching European values. The report on the state of the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights in Hungary was prepared by Greens/EFA rapporteur Judith Sargentini in the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE). We asked Hungarian MEP Benedek Jávor (Greens/ EFA) how he evaluates the outcomes of the vote. The interview was conducted by Zsófia Deák from the Prague Office of the Heinrich Böll Foundation.
20. September 2018 by Benedek Jávor, Zsófia Deák

Creator: Benedek Javor. All rights reserved.

Many MEPs have turned away from Viktor Orbán even within his own political group, the EPP, since May 2017, when the state of democracy in Hungary was discussed at the European Parliament and when the LIBE committee was mandated to draw up the report. How do you evaluate the results of Wednesday’s vote on the Sargentini Report?
Since May 2017 the Hungarian Government’s actions have proved again and again what their attitude is towards democratic institutions, the media, and the rule of law. The situation has been deteriorating since that time, and EPP members could not pretend they did not know what was going on in Budapest. This is a very important, positive outcome, as the overwhelming majority of the European Parliament agrees there are serious problems in Hungary. It became clear that Orbán politically is closer to the far-right parties than to mainstream Christian Democrats. With this vote he has lost the battle to dominate the EPP:  European conservatives are not ready for an ‘Orbanification’ of their political group. Now the Hungarian prime minister will most probably turn to his plan B, which is to bring eurosceptic far-right forces together into a political group at the EP. If so, he will soon have to recognize, however, what the difference is between enjoying the protection of the biggest political group in the EP versus the protection of a marginalized, extremist minority alliance.
What were your impressions after the debate on Tuesday that preceded the vote? How do you evaluate Orbán’s speech and the reactions he received during the debate?
Orbán had the chance to choose a more compromise-seeking position with the EPP and with the EP in general, but in the end he decided to be more confrontational. He was not even trying to convince the EPP and the Plenary to support him, his speech and rhetoric was addressed to his own domestic supporters. It was also a crucial point that Manfred Weber, the chair of the EPP group, decided to speak up in this conflict. It is hard to say whether the EPP had ever proposed a compromise or whether it was already too late by now, but the result is clear:  Orbán is in the minority. This became visible at the plenary, but the decision had been made earlier. By the time the speakers entered the room, the battle was already over. Both Orbán and Weber knew there would be no compromise, and they spoke according to that knowledge.
How were the final results communicated in Hungary by the Government and the opposition?
The Government presented it as an attack on the Hungarian nation. They did not even try to defend their position, they wanted to present themselves as victims of an unfair attack organised by a putative internationalist, pro-immigration conspiracy revenging itself against Hungary for allegedly having blocked their efforts to change the population of the continent. George Soros was mentioned there as well, of course. However, I felt there was a bit of confusion, a lack of strength, and some self-repetition in the governmental communication.
Most of the opposition parties welcomed the decision and evaluated it as a great success, underlining that the report criticizes the Government and not the country or the people, and emphasizing that actually the EP defends the fundamental rights of Hungarian citizens against their own Government. In fact, the vote is the first defeat for Orbán for a long time, and this generates a new political momentum in the country. There were calls for the resignation of the whole Government, and rallies were launched for the weekend. However, there were actually some opposition MEPs who voted against the report or who did not cast their votes, mostly from the far-right Jobbik party but most disappointingly also from LMP, one of the Hungarian green parties which has drifted to the right and closer to the Government in the last few years.
How was the vote received by the state media and independent outlets?
Government propaganda- quite predictably- tried to present the whole report as an attack against the Hungarian nation, and they mostly claimed it was revenge because for Hungary’s anti-immigration policies. The Government-controlled news outlets were keen on presenting people from all over Europe who had “stood up for Hungary”. In this alternative reality, the governmental media reported that Orbán had received an immense outpouring of support from the European public for his fight against European elites and institutions. The evidence provided of that was a couple of sporadic Facebook comments from Orbán’s own website, which were then published in each and every governmental media outlet. The very few remaining independent outlets followed the whole debate and the votes very closely, and there were quite high numbers of analyses published. After the vote they followed the Government’s reactions and made it very clear when the Government propaganda was full of false statements. They also analysed in detail the possible political consequences of the vote, which might have more of an effect than the practical legal procedure will, for the moment.
What do you expect – how will the EP decision to pass the Sargentini Report influence the politics of Orbán in the  near future, taking into consideration the approaching EP elections?
Earlier on Orbán’s main goal was to push the whole EPP into a more far-right position. He did not succeed. His former allies within the EPP (such as the CDU or the Austrian ÖVP, for example) decided to vote in favour of the Sargentini Report. Therefore it is clear now that his only allies are the eurosceptic, mostly openly racist, far-right parties. That is the only direction he can move in, and this will hugely influence his strategy for the EP elections. However, it does not seem likely that any new kind of far right EP group would ever gain as much influence as the EPP has now.
What does this vote mean for Hungary and the EU in the long run?
This vote was only one step in a longer process and now the discussion will proceed in the Council. However, it will not be much easier for Orbán to convince the other governments there, either. He has very few allies. The end of the process, in theory, could lead to certain sanctions against Hungary, but which sanctions would be possible is also not yet clarified. On the other hand, in the next multiannual financial framework (MFF) the Commission has proposed the option of freezing payments of EU funds in cases involving serious corruption issues (under the so-called rule of law procedure). So there might be a possibility to practically impose sanctions on Hungary even without a Council decision on the Article 7 procedure.
This decision was at least as important for Europe as it was for Hungary, though. Now it has been proved that the EU is able and ready to stand up for its fundamental rights and values, and not only when it comes to breaches of competition law, the single market rules, or state budget deficit targets. It was an important test.



Alternatives to Nuclear Power – Workshop

On the 6th of June, the Greens-EFA group in collaboration with Greenpeace Energy hosted a workshop to discuss a recent study by Energy Brainpool titled  Controllable Renewable Energies: An Alternative to Nuclear Power, Cost Comparisons for Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Hungary. During the workshop participants had the opportunity to follow a diverse discussion including several different opinions on the topic, as the Commission and Greenpeace Energy reflected on the findings of the study.

The study is available here: 2018-04_25_ENERGY BRAINPOOL_Visegrad Study_2018 April

The presentation of Energy Brainpool is available here: 2018-06-06_GPE_Study-Presentaion-V4-Brussels_FaH

The presentation of Greenpeace Energy is available here: 180606_EP_Studie_Visesgrad-Atom_Brüssel

Energy efficiency – Europe is taking a step in the right direction

The Greens/EFA group has welcomed the increase in energy efficiency targets in the EU, but warned that they still fall short of delivering on the Paris climate agreement.

After particularly difficult negotiations, an agreement was reached last night on the revision of the Energy Efficiency Directive between the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council.

Benedek Jávor, energy efficiency spokesperson for the Greens/EFA group, comments:

“We’ve worked hard to push for the highest overall ambition possible. Despite the lack of ambition of national governments, we have managed to deliver a headline target of 32.5 % and annual savings of 0.8% for consumers. We have made sure that over the next decade there will be greater  savings, delivered at a faster pace. This will deliver tangible benefits for Europeans, not least in tackling the problem of energy poverty. It also opens up an opportunity to create thousands of jobs in the green economy, opportunities that are desperately needed in many parts of Europe.

 “Nonetheless, the measures are not enough for the EU to fulfil its commitments under the Paris Agreement. They will need to be strengthened in time if we are to meet our climate obligations and deliver the full health and financial benefits of energy efficiency to the people of Europe.”

Protection of investigative journalists in Europe

The European Parliament will hold a debate this afternoon on the protection of investigative journalists in Europe, following the murder of Slovak journalist Ján Kuciak and his partner Martina Kušnírová.

Please find below a quote from Greens/EFA MEP Benedek Jávor, who recently visited Slovakia as part of a European Parliament fact finding mission. He will speak in the debate this afternoon.

“The Slovak government needs to make sure there is a swift and impartial investigation of the murder of Ján Kuciak and Martina Kušnírová. Their deaths raise serious questions about freedom of the press in Slovakia and demonstrate the alarming depths of corruption in the country. Having recently visited Slovakia, I witnessed the strength of the student and civil society movement against corruption and for democratic values and rule of law. The EU needs to stand up for these values too, by scaling up its efforts to protect journalists and whistle-blowers.

 “There is evidence of misuse of EU funds, with concerns that agriculture subsidies are being siphoned off to fund criminal activities. The European Anti Fraud Office must investigate to make sure any abuse is brought to an end.”