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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.”

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.

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.”

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

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.”