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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.”

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

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.”

Greens/EFA respond to the news of the death of a Slovakian journalist

Greens/EFA transparency spokesperson Benedek Javor comments:

“We are deeply shocked to learn of the death of Ján Kuciak and his partner Martina Kušnírová. We expect to see a thorough and independent investigation so that the perpetrators can be brought to justice.

 “This horrifying incident comes only a few months on from the murder of the Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. Investigative journalism is one of the cornerstones of our democratic society and we have to make sure that journalists can speak truth to power without fear of intimidation or violence. The European Union must urgently look at how it can better protect journalists.”

The Greens/EFA group has asked for the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, to respond to the incident during his opening remarks of the upcoming plenary session in Brussels on Wednesday.

Energizing European Democracy: Time for Transnational lists – open letter

This Wednesday 7th February the European Parliament in Strasbourg will once again vote on transnational lists, with the difference that now there is a tangible opportunity to actually implement them in practice.

Find below in English an open letter of MEPs and also current and former EU officials calling on the necessity of transnational lists: Energising European Democracy_ Time for Transnational Lists_Open_Letter

MEPs’ joint call to the European Commission for the protection of media freedom and investigative journalism

MEPs call on European Commission to Protect Investigative Journalists and Stand for Media Freedom 


MEPs David Casa (EPP), Ana Gomes (S&D), Monica Macovei (ECR), Maite Pagazaurtundúa (ALDE) Stelios Kouloglou (GUE) and Benedek Jávor (Greens) have joined forces to push for EU legislation that will address and end “SLAPPs” – lawsuits intended to intimidate and silence investigative journalists and independent media by burdening them with exorbitant legal expenses until they abandon their opposition. According to the MEPs, the practice is abusive, poses a threat to media freedom and has no place in the European Union.

SLAPP was used, for instance, against investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia and is now being used against Maltese media houses by firms associated with government corruption and the Panama Papers scandal that are threatening legal action in the United States.

David Casa, Ana Gomes, Monica Macovei, Maite Pagazaurtundúa, Stelios Kouloglou and Benedek Jávor stated:

“In Malta we have seen that firms like Pilatus Bank and Henley & Partners that employ these practices, using American litigation, have succeeded in having stories altered or deleted completely from online archives. And investigative journalists are prevented from reporting further on corrupt practices out of fear of further legal action. But this is not just a Maltese problem. In the UK, Appleby, the firm associated with the Paradise Papers, is using similar tactics against the Guardian and the BBC.

The cross-border nature of investigative journalism as well as the tendency to pursue legal action in jurisdictions outside the EU that only have a tenuous connection with the parties justifies and requires an EU response”.

The MEPs are calling on EU Commissioner Frans Timmermans to propose an EU Anti-SLAPP Directive that will include:


  • The ability for investigative journalists and independent media to request that vexatious lawsuits in the EU be expediently dismissed and claim compensation;
  • The establishment of punitive fines on firms pursuing these practices when recourse is made to jurisdictions outside the EU;
  • The setting up of a SLAPP fund to support investigative journalists and independent media that choose to resist malicious attempts to silence them and to assist in the recovery of funds due to them;
  • The setting-up of an EU register that names and shames firms that pursue these abusive practices.

“We are committed to the protection of investigative journalists and media freedom across the EU and will pursue this issue until Anti-SLAPP EU legislation is in place”, the MEPs stated.

Thomas Gibson from the Committee to Protect Journalists stated: “SLAPP is a serious threat to journalism and media freedom. These sums of money are in no way proportionate.  Independent journalists in Malta already face enormous challenges and restrictions.  Critical journalism must not be stifled. In addition to pushing for full justice of the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, the Commission needs to address the climate in which investigative journalists work in the country.”

Jodie Ginsberg, CEO of Index on Censorship, said: “Having a media that is free to investigate corruption and abuse of power – and free to publish the results of those investigations – is fundamental to democracy. These vexatious law suits – deliberately aimed at preventing journalists from carrying out such work – must be stopped.”

Binding targets will help cut bills and combat energy poverty

The European Parliament’s Industry, Research and Energy committee has today backed a report on the energy efficiency directive.With two alternative compromise deals on the table, the Greens backed a 40% binding target on energy efficiency by 2030 (1).

 Greens/EFA shadow rapporteur Benedek Jávor comments:

 “An ambitious energy efficiency policy is needed to bring down energy bills for European citizens and businesses. It can also help to combat energy poverty and is key to our health, well-being, as well as achieving our climate policy targets and the commitments made under the Paris Agreement.

 “We are pleased to have helped secure agreement on an overall 40% target for energy efficiency for 2030 across the EU, which would be underpinned by national binding targets to ensure it really delivers. We have also fought to close loopholes and make sure the transport sector is included in the targets.

 “The ambition on targets needs to be matched with concrete measures, especially on lifting people out of energy poverty. The transition towards energy efficiency must deliver real benefits for the poorest, most vulnerable ones in our communities.”