Támogasd Te is küzdelmünket a zöld és igazságos jövőért!

LuxLeaks upcoming court decision – quote from Benedek Jávor

Tomorrow (Thursday 23 November), the High Court in Luxembourg will rule on the appeal of the LuxLeaks whisteblowers, Antoine Deltour and Raphael Halet, plus journalist Edouard Perrin.

In March, Antoine Deltour was sentenced to a six-month suspended sentence and a €1,500 fine, while Raphael Halet received a €1,000 fine. They have appealed these sentences.

Journalist Edouard Perrin was originally acquitted, but the Luxembourgish authorities have appealed against this decision.

Greens/EFA transparency spokesperson Benedek Jávor comments:

“This trial shows why we need protection for whistleblowers. It is thanks to people like Antoine Deltour and Raphael Halet that the public was made aware of the many tax and fraud scandals to break in recent years. Their principled and brave action has been a major factor in bringing about much needed policy changes to tackle tax fraud, money laundering and corruption. Yet despite this, the EU doesn’t have rules in place to ensure their protection. The European Commission must urgently bring forward robust proposals to make sure that future whistleblowers don’t face the same ordeal.  

 “It is deeply regrettable that the journalist Edouard Perrin is also facing renewed conviction. In light of the murder of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, we have called for the creation of an annual prize to celebrate investigative journalism, which serves a crucial function in our democracies.”


(Image source: euractiv.com – Gwenael Piaser/Flickr)

Written comment to the European Parliament’s debate on the protection of journalism

The murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia is a tragedy and  at the same time deterrent manifestation of what lengths the power can go to in order to conceal the truth. Even the smallest constriction on independent journalism is a serious violation of citizens’ rights to the pluralism of information. And where a journalist pays with her life for revealing corruption and abuse of the power, there democracy is shaken to its core.

Aggression by those in power against free and independent news reporting must have consequences. The Maltese government must step down, as they were unable to come clear against the charges of corruption. In addition, the European Commission must launch a prompt and thorough investigation in order to find those who were responsible for these developments.

In several Member States, the systemic curtailing of the free press has already started or has been already going on for years. In these countries, it is in the power’s interest to abolish the independence and pluralism of the media. This cannot ever deteriorate into a situation, in which people who seek to reveal the truth can no longer feel safe. Urgent and effective action must be taken in order to prevent any government from using intimidation of journalists as a means to hide the truth.

Transparency and a free, independent media are core European values, the protection of which now sadly needs to constantly be reinforced, we Greens propose an award with the name of Daphne Caruana Galizia to be given each year to investigative journalist in order to value and protect their work

EU Public Prosecutor To Fight Fraud

It’s Hungary’s version of a train to nowhere.

A train connecting two remote villages with links to the Prime Minister and largely funded by EU money.

Call it a coincidence.

Whether Hungary, a major recipient of EU funds, spends the money properly, is hard to find out, if the Hungarian authorities don’t investigate.

Benedek Jávor, a Hungarian member of the European Parliament from the Greens had this to say:

“The son-in-law of the Prime Minister, Mr Istvan Tiborc, was investigated by Olaf (the European Anti-Fraud Office) regarding some public light projects and the Hungarian public prosecutor did not investigate in a proper way in these cases, and finally nothing was done, nothing really effective was done in those cases.

But in Hungary we know dozens and dozens of cases where politically-related corruption cases are not properly investigated.”

To investigate potential fraud, the EU decided to establish the EU Prosecutor’s Office.

But 8 members are refusing to participate, prompting a warning from Brussels.

“The states which have a lot of EU money or will have in the future budgetary period, they should be under more control and there should be more preventive measures to protect the taxpayers’ money”, says Věra Jourová, the EU Justice Commissioner.

While in the states which are participating in the EU Prosecutor’s Office, there could be simplified rules without so much control and audit. “

The EU Prosecutor will have exclusive and EU-wide jurisdiction to deal with suspicions of criminal behaviour.

MEPs Go to Court in Bid to Reform EFSA

Green MEPs have lodged a complaint to denounce the lack of transparency in EFSA’s assessment of glyphosate. They hope to change the internal rules of the agency to boost transparency and limit lobby influence.

“Secret science is bad for your health,” said Michèle Rivasi, a French Green MEP. Together with three of her colleagues, she is campaigning for more transparency within the EU’s scientific agencies.

On 24 May, Heidi Hautala (Finland), Benedek Jávor (Hungary), Michèle Rivasi (France) et Bart Staes (Belgium) lodged a complaint against the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for not releasing the studies upon which it based its assessment of glyphosate.

In 2016, the agency deemed that this controversial pesticide posed no threat to consumers. Just the previous year, however, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) had judged the substance “probably carcinogenic”.

Since then, the European agency has refused to release most of the studies behind its opinion, arguing that they come from the industry and are thus protected as trade secrets.

Scientific controversy

“But without this crucial data, independent experts cannot check the validity of EFSA’s conclusions. This has been underlined by the toxicologist Christopher Portier in his letter to Jean-Claude Juncker”, said Rivasi, who is a biologist.

The shreds of information the Greens did manage to obtain by piecing together redacted data and missing documents are, however, enough for the toxicologist to conclude that the assessment carried out by EFSA did not consider important elements that could prove glyphosate’s carcinogenicity.

“It is essential to modify the internal regulations of the European agencies so they can only use publicly available studies, just as the IARC does,” Rivasi added. “The Monsanto Papers scandal shows us yet again the necessity of putting an end to the interference of the agrochemical industries in public health policies.”

EFSA sitting on the fence

If the agencies could only use publicly available studies for their opinions, the “multinational corporations that hide behind trade secrets” would not have so much influence over legislation, the French MEP explained.

In practice, internal regulations can be changed on the initiative of the commissioner responsible for them. In this case, it would be Vytenis Andriukaitis. “We have already succeeded in having the regulations changed, we will keep up the pressure,” Benedek Jávor insisted.

Yet, the publication of information concerning emissions of chemicals into the environment is supposedly guaranteed by the Aarhus Convention on access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters, as well as by several past court judgements.

Towards a reformed agriculture

Of course, the agrochemical industry and traditional farmers claim it is impossible to farm without glyphosate. But a number of studies, as well as the proven success of alternative practices, such as organic agriculture, contradict this claim. “They always say it’s impossible, we should not believe it. That’s what they said about asbestos,” said Bart Staes.

“We do not need to find new chemicals, we need to change the way we cultivate,” Jávor added.

Solutions exist, even for the agri-food sector, Rivasi promised. And those solutions do not imply any necessary decrease in yield and production. Furthermore, added Heidi Hautala, they are usually much better for the environment and the soils.

These solutions do not necessarily mean getting rid of all pesticides. Agroecology is a practice by which farmers try and reduce as much as possible the chemicals and external products they use on their crops.

What this does imply is a progressive end to monocultures and artificial practices such as desiccation. The principle of desiccation involves killing the plant (by spraying glyphosate on it, for example) before harvest. The dying plant then sends all its remaining resources into the grain, which looks bigger when harvested.

The executive director of EFSA himself, Bernhard Url, is not opposed to this notion of reforming agricultural practices.

“It is not so much of a safety question because we only authorise products that do not cause harm, but we are entering a discussion about the acceptability of certain practices. Here we can say that maybe if consumers knew, they would make different choices. This is true for organic farming: consumers know that there is a different system available and make a choice”, he said in a recent interview with EURACTIV.com.

This new debate also concerns products such as Smartfresh, a gas that enables the conservation of apples, for example, for months, without their external appearance changing. But according to some research, it seems that the products conserved lose their nutritional value in the process.

Smartfresh is not dangerous, it is safe for human consumption, but are these practices really necessary?

This “is not our primary mandate, which is safety and not efficacy or risk-benefit assessment. But it is a very pertinent question whether in the future more of these risk-benefit questions should come to our table,” Url said.

Medicines agencies work in this way. “Medicines are tested not only for safety but also for efficacy and quality. In food, as there are no authorisations, we are really sticking to the safety mandate.”

Polish MEP Under Pressure on Crucial EU Energy Saving Law

An update of the EU’s Energy Efficiency Directive risks coming undone as a result of political infighting between the Polish lawmaker charged with helming the European Parliament’s revision of the legislation and much of his own political group, EURACTIV.com has learned.

Unlike its sister piece of legislation, the Energy Performance of Building Directive (EPBD), the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) update has been far from smooth sailing.

Adam Gierek, the Polish MEP in charge of steering the draft law through the European Parliament, has been accused of negotiating key aspects of the directive against the line of his own political group, the Socialist and Democrats (S&D).

His stance on the EED is indeed much closer to the centre-right European People’s party (EPP) and the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) groups, sources familiar with the file told EURACTIV.com.

Adam Gierek’s initial draft report on the European Commission’s proposal was widely criticised for focusing too heavily on primary energy consumption and for ditching the S&D’s 40% energy saving target for 2030, which is the centrepiece of the legislation.  

Instead of a 40% target, Gierek first opted for a far lower 28% objective before raising the bar to 35%, under pressure from MEPs in his S&D group.

The European Parliament has twice backed a 40% energy saving target, an objective again confirmed when the assembly’s environment committee voted on the EED in September. So Gierek’s insistence on diluting the target is now putting him in an awkward position with the European Parliament as a whole.

Political infighting

Relations with “shadow” rapporteurs from other political groups in the European Parliament have also been fractious. Sources familiar with the situation claim that Gierek no longer takes bilateral meetings with his colleagues and that he mistakenly identified two of the shadow MEPs as assistants during one meeting.

Gierek’s latest position actually backs the 40% energy savings goal, suggesting that he is now toeing the S&D group’s long-held energy efficiency target.

But Green lawmaker Benedek Jávor, who is shadow rapporteur on the EED, branded Gierek’s 40% offering as mere “window dressing” and told EURACTIV that a proposed change to final energy consumption would actually decrease the target to just 30-31%.

Jávor explained that under Gierek’s current proposal the EU would fail to reach primary energy targets in 2030, adding that the latest compromise from the Polish MEP is “unacceptable” and nothing short of a “trick”.

As things stand, the S&D vote together with the Greens/EFA and GUE/NGL groups would on paper be enough to form a majority and pass a report that supports the 40% target, as happened recently with the opinion adopted by the Parliament’s environment committee.

But Jávor suggested that Gierek may in fact be trying to split the vote of the S&D group in order to deliver a majority to the EPP and ECR, who support a much less ambitious energy efficiency directive.

Gierek is said to be securing the support of Socialist MEPs from Eastern Europe, making it uncertain which way the vote would swing as support is so finely balanced. 

Markus Pieper, the shadow rapporteur for the centre-right EPP, has reportedly been trying to convince his group to back the Gierek proposal. Pieper declined to comment when given the opportunity to do so.

Gierek out?

A final vote in the Parliament’s industry committee is scheduled for 28 November. Calls for Gierek to be stripped of his duties as lead rapporteur have been made before and this fresh pressure could force the S&D group to consider its options again.

Socialist MEPs meet on Tuesday (17 October) for a regular horizontal working group meeting, where the EED will almost certainly be on the agenda.

When asked if he believes Gierek’s time in charge is over, MEP Jávor insisted that it is an “internal problem” which the S&D group will have to address themselves.

When contacted on Friday (13 October), Gierek was unreachable for questions.

Removing a lead rapporteur from a file is very much a last-resort option for a political group. It has happened before in Parliament but has mostly been due to technical reasons and very rarely this late in the game.

Files are awarded to political groups after intense negotiations and it is up to the relevant group to decide who in its ranks becomes rapporteur. It is then also up to the same group to decide if an MEP should be removed from their role if they are not pushing the right political agenda.

The EED is a crucial part of the Clean Energy Package and the draft report adopted by the Parliament’s industry committee at the end of November will eventually form the basis of the assembly’s position during trilateral talks with the Commission and EU Council.

The environment committee’s opinion was widely praised for being ambitious and reflecting Parliament’s position on energy efficiency, as well as a number of resolutions passed by the institution so far.

Whoever is dispatched to negotiate in trialogue for the Parliament will also be expected to mirror this position as closely as possible, especially given the Council’s insistence on a non-binding 30% target, adopted back in June.

Monsanto’s Tricks – The Greens’ video on the Monsanto-documents

The Monsanto Papers are secret, internal documents that have now been made public thanks to over 10,000 farmers who have taken Monsanto to court, accusing the company’s glyphosate weedkillers of causing them to develop a cancer called non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.

The documents reveal the various strategies and tactics used by Monsanto to ensure that they can sell their star product, RoundUp, despite the clear dangers for humans and for the environment. This trailer highlights some of Monsanto’s tricks.


(Image source: en.wikipedia.org)

Greens/EFA: Press release on controversial Ukrainian language bill

Ukraine’s president Poroshenko has signed into law a controversial bill that makes Ukrainian the required language of study in state schools from the fifth grade on. Petro Poroshenko signed the measure on September 25 after days of criticism, particularly from Ukraine’s ethnic minorities.

Rebecca Harms, Member of the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament and of the EU-Ukraine delegation, comments:

“The signature of the education bill by President Poroshenko comes as a surprise to me. Just last week Members of European Parliament and of the Verkhovna Rada discussed and agreed that the Ukrainian government and President shall wait for the Venice Commission to assess the law before signing it. Especially after the honest exchange we had with our Ukrainian colleagues this signature is more than disappointing. It has a negative influence on the relations between Ukraine and some of the EU member states. Ukraine adheres to the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, which provides a clear framework for dealing with minority languages, including in schools and has been an effective instrument in Ukraine for managing the issue in recent years. It proved itself as a successful tool in depoliticizing the issue in many parts of Europe and on this basis it must be possible to come to an agreement between Ukraine its minorities and the EU member states.”

Benedek Jávor, Hungarian Member of the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament, adds:
“I welcomed the fact that Ukraine intended to converge her educational system to European patterns. Eliminating existing minority rights to education on one’s mother tongue is not such. However, promises to rely on the opinion of the Venice Commission concerning the parts of the Law on Education that have to do with minority languages seemed acceptable. It is in that context that I find president Poroshenko’s decision to sign the bill to law disappointing and demand adjusting it to the forthcoming examination by the Venice Commission.”

RomaWeek: Combating Antigypsyism in Europe

On the occasion of the International Roma Day, the European Parliament is hosting a week-long program filled with workshops, conferences, exhibitions, awards and other events to celebrate the Roma culture. This year, the Greens have issued a publication titled Countering Antigypsism in Europe, which was introduced to the public today with introductory remarks from MEP Benedek Jávor.  The agenda of the event and the publication itself in English are attached below:

May 28 event: Agenda

Countering Antigypsism in Europe (publication): Countering_Antigypsyism_web_version


Mr. Jávor’s introductory remarks can be read in full below:

Combating Antigypsyism and a gender and youth dimension in the current and post-2020 EU Roma Policy

Hosted by Greens/EFA in cooperation with ERGO Network

Introductory Remark by Benedek Jávor:

The International Roma Day (April 8) is a day to celebrate Roma culture and raise awareness of the issues facing Roma people. We Greens in the European Parliament felt the importance of the Roma Day hence we are proud to be participating in the cooperation of political groups for the second time to celebrate it in the European Parliament in order to show in Europe who Roma people really are and indeed to raise awareness of the problems they are facing.


  • In the preparation of this year’s Roma Day the Roma Working Group of the Greens/EFA Group has decided to prepare a book about Roma with a dual aim:


  1. To present the urgent problems the Roma facing today: the forms of antigypsyism, forms of discrimination and segregation,the political dimensions in the Member States and in Europe and about the recognition of the Roma identity in Europe.
  2. and our position and ideas as Greens how to tackle them.


Of course there are no easy and fast solutions to almost none of those problems.

The history of racism and discrimination has a many century long history in general and against Roma as well.  Systemic antigsypsyism can be found on all field of life:

  • it happens that state owned companies fail to employ a person with Roma sounding name,
  • officials in local authorities do not accomplish their best and don’t share all the necessary information with a person with an address from specific area of a Roma settlement;
  • police stops persons in order to verify their identity when simply walking on street with 150% more chance if she /he has visibly darker skin color.
  • But antigypsyism can be found on highest level when EU funds are directed in a way that they:
    • maintain and support of segregated schools;
    • systematically supporting the only non-Roma schools
    • and preventing Roma to have access to quality, equal, non-segregated schooling.

But Roma are not the only society group in need. Poverty is in rise among Central Eastern European countries social strata’s. I know quite precisely that for example 21% – approximately 800,000 – of Hungarian households are considered to live in poverty. In poverty which is comparable to third world countries. Such poverty includes energy poverty, in which Roma (who consist only 7-8% of the Hungarian society) are extremely overrepresented. In their case this is a real struggle when important decisions must taken during wintertime: what to finance heating or the other costs.

We those politicians committed towards green technologies are sure that there are methodologies, techniques and tools available for such cases. The internet – including the most popular video sharing sites – are full with short videos explaining how could the poorest people make heat support supply out of empty beer cans, LED light system out of a single and cheap solar panel and and a car accumulator, solar grill equipment out of an empty shoe box.

Of course we as Greens have a long history of speaking out against racism and discrimination and stepping up for minorities. But we also must take a look on ourselves and strictly scrutinize whether the EU has done everything in order to make these people’s life easier; have we made the maximum to channelize EU funds towards those most in deprivation, or are we sure that EU funds were not used in a way that made the gap between Roma and non Roma, marginalized and better of people even bigger?

If the answer is “no”, or – even worse – “we don’t know” than we European decision makers here in the Parliament, in the Commission and in other European bodies will have to re-plan our approach towards Roma. Because their problems are not simply their individual, personal issue but it will effectuate the Member State’s and therefore whole Europe’s competitiveness.

I know that our booklet is not changing al circumstances around us, I am afraid that it will not have an effect to stop or even eliminate anti-gipsyism from one day to other I also hardly believe that it was the only thing needed to change the entire EU support system. But I strongly believe that is a tiny but important step towards a better working EU for all of us. I wish you a fruitful conversation!

LuxLeaks trial: Convictions show the need for urgent EU protection of whistleblowers

The verdict of the LuxLeaks whistleblowers trial has been handed down today. Both Antoine Deltour and Raphael Halet have been convicted, while journalist Edouard Perrin has been acquitted, as he was in the original trial. Antoine Deltour has been sentenced to a six-month suspended sentence and a €1,500 fine, while Raphael Halet has received a €1,000 fine.

Commenting on the decision, Greens/EFA member of the committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs Molly Scott Cato said:

“Even with the reduced sentences, this decision is deeply regrettable. Without the actions of Antoine and Raphael, the secret sweetheart tax deals between large companies and the tax administration of Luxembourg would have remained secret. During our recent visit to Luxembourg with members of the Panama Papers inquiry committee we heard that they have a new policy of transparency on tax matters. It is a shame that they do not extend this policy to cover those who shine a light on the country’s murky history of tax avoidance. Antoine and Raphael have done a great service to those who seek to advance the cause of tax justice in Europe. The significant tax reforms that are now being agreed by the EU institutions would not have happened without their revelations. The LuxLeaks scandal highlights the need for tax rulings to be made public and for companies to be obliged to publicly disclose where they do business. It also draws attention to the urgency of making progress with EU-wide whistleblower protection legislation.”

Greens/EFA transparency spokesperson Benedek Jávor added:

“This verdict shows just how urgently we need a directive offering minimum level of protection for whistleblowers at European level. We have not only been calling for action for a long time but have also published our own draft proposal. We are pleased that the European Commission has launched a consultation, but this must be followed by swift and decisive legislative action. The proposal needs to be horizontal rather than sector specific, so that no whistleblowers again have to experience the type of hounding and criminalisation that Antoine and Raphael have faced.”

Quote by Benedek Jávor on today’s Commission decision in the Paks II state aid case

The European Commission has today concluded that Hungary’s support for the Paks II nuclear project constitutes State Aid. The Commission has nonetheless approved the support on the basis of commitments made by the Hungarian government, which they say will limit market distortion.

Commenting on the decision, Hungarian MEP and Greens/EFA transparency spokesperson Benedek Jávor said:

“Despite the Hungarian government’s repeated denials, the European Commission has confirmed that the Paks II project will benefit from State Aid. By doing so, the Commission effectively concedes the underlying economic weakness of the project. We remain of the view that Hungary has not demonstrated that this project will avoid undue distortions of the Hungarian and regional energy markets and we will be strongly supportive of any appeal, as is apparently being considered by the Austrian government.

“With the Hungarian state to be the owner, financer, operator and regulator of the new nuclear power plant, there is a clear problem of concentration of power. Competition and public procurement rules must be applied evenly across the entire energy market, and the nuclear industry must be no exception. With nuclear representing more than a quarter of the EU’s current energy production, this decision will severely undermine confidence that the Energy Union and the internal electricity market represent a level playing field.”