Joint reaction by MEPs Irena Joveva and Klemen Grošelj to the vote (and) on the resolution on the rule of law in Slovenia:

“The fact that the resolution on the issue of the rule of law and fundamental rights in Slovenia has today been endorsed by a majority in the European Parliament regrettably puts us again in the company of countries such as Hungary and Poland, where the state authorities have turned the democratic order of the country into the authoritarian rule (of the interest groups) of a single party. The resolution adopted today highlights cases of systematic violations of the rule of law based on credible sources, such as the European Commission’s annual reports on the rule of law and the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights.

The text only includes a few of the key problems encountered under the current authorities. These have escalated and we have been drawing attention to them for quite some time. In addition to clear requirements concerning respect for media freedom, in particular the independence of the national broadcaster RTV Slovenia and the Slovenian Press Agency (STA), and the obligations of the state, which must respect its own legislation, key messages include the exceeding of the powers of the executive, systematic erosion of judicial and prosecutorial independence, politicisation of the police and attacks on all remaining independent regulatory institutions.

The current Government in Slovenia has done a good job of destroying the reputation of our country, which until recently served as an example of exemplary democracy in Europe (among the so-called new Member States). The aim of such a policy is autocracy, which is set against a backdrop of kleptocracy. It should not be forgotten that this also weakens Slovenia’s position within the EU where important reform processes are set to begin with the start of the French Presidency and the new German Government.

It is telling that the European Parliament is forced to require the Slovenian Government to respect the basic principles of a democratic society, such as the separation of powers and the implementation of Constitutional Court decisions. There is an acute awareness in the European Parliament of the systematic violation of the rule of law and democratic norms in Slovenia, and nobody wants another member state whose authorities undermine the EU legal order.”

In her video statement, Joveva made an additional comment:

“Nobody else is to blame for this resolution but the current Government, headed by its Prime Minister. The text contains only some of the most obvious examples of their actions, their attempts to systematically dismantle all social systems or bend them to their purposes, their non-compliance with their own legislation, their attacks, and their deliberate polarisation. False narratives about communist conspiracies under the guise of defending traditional values are no longer credible. The aim of such politics is not to defend these values. Such politics has no values at all. None. The aim of such politics is purely and simply autocracy, set against a backdrop of kleptocracy. And… it is telling that the European Parliament is forced to, by means of a resolution, require the Slovenian Government to respect the basic principles of a democratic society. But quite simply, nobody wants another member state whose authorities undermine the legal order of the European Union.”


Up YU Go! Odjuga.

Everyone who knows me also knows I love wordplay. So as soon as I saw its title in both English and Slovene, I knew that this exhibition would be something world-class.

When the (unfortunately) now former director of the National Museum of Contemporary History, Kaja Širok, asked me whether I wished to participate in this project, I didn’t need to think twice about my answer. I was honoured that she had thought of me, too. Yes, I’m honoured because my family, which was originally from the south of Yugoslavia, can also be said to have mustered the courage to ‘up and go’ and come to Slovenia.

The central theme of the exhibition is the stories of people who moved here from the republics of the former Yugoslavia after the Second World War, and their descendants. In its core, the exhibition humanises the processes of belonging, self-discovery, remembering, exclusion, stigmatisation, and othering.

“Labels? Labels are only good for rakija.” This is how the message of the exhibition was beautifully summed up by its co-creator Dragica Dobrila.

“Identities? They say that identities are like underpants. You’ve got several, or you don’t; in other words: your thing, your intimate business.” That is how the musician Magnifico explains it. Because his is also one of the ‘Up-YU-Go’ stories.

In addition to thousands of others, to be clear. The stories of Identities on the Line are actually conceived on the basis of the stories of 40 people who have experienced just that. Even based on my story, my parents’ story. On my identity, my identities.

“Let’s hold up a mirror to all those who look down on us and – unjustifiably – place us somewhere near the bottom of the social ladder. Let’s hold up this mirror to them in such a way that we can show them the best version of ourselves.”

This was my message to all of us who are characterised by multiple identities. And this record is a really minute part of this temporary exhibition. Therefore… Go see it! It will be on display in the premises of the National Museum of Contemporary History of Slovenia until May 2022.

Photo: National Museum of Contemporary History

On Monday, 6 December 2021, MEP Irena Joveva participated in an online debate “What does a green and digital future bring for young people?” organised by the Zavod PIP institute and the Europe Direct Podravje information point. During the debate, the speakers focused on the climate change situation in Slovenia, the impact of the pandemic on the environment, the exit from the COVID-19 crisis supported by the digital and green transitions, the actions outlined in the recovery plans launched at the EU and national levels and, last but not least, on what all this means for the future of young Europeans.

The transition to a climate-neutral society is both a challenge and an opportunity to create a better future for all. In her introduction, Irena Joveva explained that the European Union has adopted ambitious legislation to implement its climate change commitments — the European Green Deal, a flagship strategy that provides a roadmap and a timeline for the Union to deliver on its climate ambitions. “It is a strategy to increase resource efficiency by moving to a clean, circular economy, restoring biodiversity and reducing pollution.” The MEP explained to the young audience that the EU intends to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, and that it is committed to becoming the first carbon-neutral continent by 2050. “The European Green Deal will also be a lifeline for the post-COVID-19 recovery. Together with the Recovery and Resilience Fund, the measures support a sound economic recovery and development in a green and digital direction.” Still, these are only frameworks and recommendations, said the MEP, adding that everything depends on how strategically Member States manage to put to use the financial assistance and loans and contribute to these transitions. In her view, the green and digital transitions are taking place in parallel and both will have major implications for the future of work and for our systems. “But the two transitions are also fundamentally different, since in the Member States in particular or in the governments’ spending plans a varying sense of urgency can be observed related to their pursuit and implementation. Digitalisation is part of the environmental solution and not part of the problem. Digitalisation can be used to increase energy efficiency, optimise energy management and combine centralised and decentralised approaches.” At the same time, the MEP expressed concern, shared by experts, that smart batteries and waste from renewable energy power plants also need to be deposited somewhere.

The young participants were particularly interested in what the planned Digital Decade will bring for the future of Europe and the young.  Joveva explained that Europe’s Digital Decade is a vision and path for the continent’s digital transformation by 2030. “The Digital Compass for the EU’s Digital Decade is based on four cardinal points: skills, safe and sustainable digital infrastructure, digital transformation of businesses and digitalisation of public services, notably e-health and the digital identity of all Union citizens.” One of the principles proposed in the European Commission’s Communication on the 2030 Digital Compass is the protection and empowerment of children and young people in the online space. Children and young people should be equipped with digital literacy and the necessary skills and competences to navigate safely and responsibly online from a very young age and throughout education and training. “Every child must be protected from harmful and illegal content. We have already paid considerable attention to these issues in Parliament when drafting the Digital Services Act (DSA) and the Digital Markets Act (DSA), where I also participated as shadow rapporteur.

In the follow-up to the debate, Joveva also outlined the opportunities the European Union offers to young people. The most familiar is the Erasmus+ study exchange programme, but there are other options as well. “Within the framework of formal education there are furthermore transnational cooperation programmes such as the CEEPUS regional programme, and in addition there are non-formal education options, ranging from volunteering (European Voluntary Service and European Solidarity Corps) to job search opportunities (EURES network, placements within Erasmus+, traineeships in the EU institutions, ALMA) and various European projects and competitions.

In addition to Joveva, Nives Felić, youth worker from the Zavod Nefiks institute, and Gaja Brecelj, director of Umanotera and Slovenian #EUClimatePact Ambassador took part in the hybrid debate.

On Sunday, 5 December 2021, MEP Irena Joveva spoke at the Regional Liberal Conference organised in Skopje by the Macedonian Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the ALDE Party under the title “A Renewed Narrative for Accelerated EU Integration”. Joveva has been critical of both the European Union and certain Member States, emphasising in particular the importance of partnership and cooperation. She also spoke about the threat of illiberal far-right populism.

As a preliminary remark, MEP Joveva noted that relations between the European Union and the Western Balkans had unfortunately not changed much during the two-and-a-half years of the European Parliament’s current term. This is partly due to the pandemic, which has overshadowed other topics, but also at the Brdo Summit, which was supposedly aimed precisely at promoting enlargement, Member States proved very reluctant to use the very word “enlargement”. She recalled a number of obstacles to enlargement, such as the Greek and later Bulgarian veto as well as the French “non” to North Macedonia: “I wish to underline that in accordance with the Treaties, bilateral disputes should not be used to prevent a candidate country from entering into negotiations. This is therefore a clear case of an EU Member State not respecting this principle and plainly exploiting North Macedonia’s position for its own political expediency. Once again, the EU’s unanimity rule is showing its weakness — that one Member State, out of 27, can stop the progress of one nation.” She pointed out that this had led the European Parliament to openly and vociferously criticise first the Commission and then the Council, as promises have to be kept and good work rewarded.

“The Western Balkan countries, our immediate European neighbours, should compete with each other in the sense of which will carry out the most reforms and improve the lives of their citizens, and they should offer each other support and expertise in order to facilitate this common process. The European Union should help us support and encourage each other,” she said, while noting that unfortunately many Western Balkan countries are bogged down in reforms, nationalism and ethno-nationalist narratives of the 1990s, which prevents them from making progress. The Western Balkan countries should perceive EU enlargement as an objective that will allow all their citizens, irrespective of where they live and of their ethnic or religious background, to feel appreciated, safe, heard and respected.

The MEP also condemned the actions of the European Union, which is losing credibility in the Western Balkans due to numerous unfulfilled promises. In her view, the integration of these countries into the EU is a geopolitical necessity that will ensure peace and sustainable development in the area. Only by standing shoulder to shoulder can the EU and the Western Balkans address many issues of great importance for the future.

“I don‘t wish to sound pessimistic, but I don’t see many radical changes in the near future. Of course, the Commission’s new enlargement package was promising, but the assumption that all six Western Balkan countries could soon join the EU is not very realistic, especially as there has been an authoritarian turnaround in some EU countries, which at the moment would certainly not be in favour of the enlargement package. The EU must therefore also be more stringent vis-à-vis its Member States. We see the deterioration in the areas of media freedom, the rule of law and civil liberties in some Member States, which is why profound changes are very much needed in the EU. Unfortunately, this can be observed in Hungary, Poland and, more recently, in my own country, Slovenia. This shows how illiberal far-right populism can weaken the rule of law, dismantle the independence of the judiciary, public media, regulatory agencies and independent institutions, and it can do this in a very short time. This is currently the biggest threat, both in the Western Balkans and in the EU Member States.”

Joveva stressed that this ideology is closely linked to ethno-nationalist tendencies and is as such not only an obstacle to accession and a threat to peace, but also undermines the very structure of the European Union. “However, we need to be clear about what is happening: artificially created ideological conflicts are only a guise for authoritarian rule, which in turn is a guise for kleptocracy. And everyone, including those who pretend to be liberal and a part of our family but support such illiberal leaders, is part of the problem, not of a solution,” she said sharply before concluding her address with the following thought: “We must work together to fight illiberalism across Europe and strengthen our common values. It should not be forgotten that we are partners in this and that the process is difficult and long, but ultimately leads to a victory. It must lead to a victory for the European Union, for the Western Balkans, and above all for the citizens of all the Western Balkan countries, who deserve a better and safer life.”

In the video, you can listen to a slightly shortened version of the address:


Today, on 26 November 2021, MEP Irena Joveva was a guest of Radio Kum. As she approaches the halfway point of her term of office, she reflected on her past work and the challenges ahead. She commented on the social and political changes caused by the pandemic, and the European policies to manage the post-pandemic situation and the recovery, as well as on political developments in Slovenia.

Not long after the start of her term of office, the world was hit by the pandemic. MEP Joveva does not doubt the important the role of the European Union in tackling the crisis: “Although Brussels often seems irrelevant, it is everything but. It is precisely common action in all areas that has made and will continue to make it much easier for Member States to deal with the pandemic than we could have done individually.” It is regrettable, however, that the pandemic has also accelerated the spread of various highly dangerous ideologies, such as fascism, different forms of intolerance and the erosion of democracy, which even Slovenia is not immune to.

Over the past two and a half years, Joveva, a member of four committees, has been actively working on a number of areas. The Special Committee on Cancer drafted a motion for a European Parliament resolution on strengthening Europe in the fight against cancer. “An important objective of the first half of the term was the creation and adoption of NextGeneration EU, the Recovery and Resilience Facility, which is now integrated into the EU’s long-term budget. These funds will enable Member States to achieve a breakthrough and develop in the post-pandemic period,” she said, welcoming the fact that much more funding is directed to initiatives for the young. In the Committee on Culture, the work over the recent period has focused on the media, freedom of the press and government interference in Poland, Hungary and, unfortunately, also in Slovenia. A number of legislative solutions are in the pipeline — ranging from the European Media Freedom Act to the Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act and perhaps soon the so-called anti-SLAPP legislation will follow aimed at preventing abuse of the legal system to silence journalists, NGOs and civil society.

The MEP finds the situation in Slovenia worrying: “Over the last year, the Slovenian Press Agency was a hostage of the Janez Janša Government. They wanted to bring the agency to its knees, gain the power to enforce their own editorial policies. They try to achieve the same with the personnel changes at the national television broadcaster.” Nor did the Twitter outbursts of the current government team go unnoticed in Europe, all of which led to a point where the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee sent a delegation to Slovenia to examine the state of democracy.

“The report makes it clear that they are deeply concerned about the climate of hostility and deep polarisation in the country — which is precisely what Janez Janša is trying to achieve. And we have even come to the point where the European Parliament will be deliberating the first ever resolution on the situation in the area of fundamental rights and the rule of law in Slovenia, presumably in December. And no, this is not an attempt ‘to export’ domestic politics, rather it proves that it is clear to everyone what is happening and how dangerous it is.”

Joveva has also been critical of the European level, which, in her view, has been too slow to act and whose mechanisms are too rigid. Even in the case of the most serious violations of European fundamental values, the European Union does not apply its sanctioning mechanism – making the disbursement of European funds conditional on compliance with the rule of law.

The MEP also spoke about motherhood: “I have been very keen to become a mother, but it was not so easy and self-evident. This was my third pregnancy and my fourth child, the first one to be carried full term. This is why, when she was born, my happiness was all the greater. It is true, however, that this is a daunting task. Nothing can prepare you for this — all this love and unconditional dedication, or how hard it can be.” Even though her daughter is only a few months old, the MEP works full time, as no maternity leave is foreseen for MEPs. At present, she is able to work from home due to the pandemic, but she was critical of the reckless and sudden decisions by the President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, who last month hastily abolished teleworking, only to allow it again later because of pressure from young MEPs. Still, Joveva intends to attend the December Plenary Session in Strasbourg with her daughter for the first time.

Finally, she called upon listeners to show confidence in science, progress and development. “Let us be friendly, understanding, tolerant and above all — responsible. And yes. Let us turn out and vote in elections. This is not only our right; it is our shared responsibility. So that in the end it is not others who decide in your stead,” she concluded.

Today, on 24 November 2021, MEPs discussed fundamental freedoms and the rule of law in Slovenia, in particular the complications around the appointment of European Delegated Prosecutors.  

If you criticise, attacks will follow. Either there is subordination or destruction. Either you support this government or you must leave. Either you belong to them or — basically —be careful.” These are the words MEP Irena Joveva used to open her debate on Slovenia. She underscored that deviations from democratic norms reach beyond national boundaries and become a problem for the Union, as was illustrated by the examples of Poland and Hungary.

In October, a delegation from the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs of the European Parliament examined the state of the rule of law and democracy in Slovenia, and in particular expressed concern about the non-appointment of European Delegated Prosecutors and the non-payment of services provided by the Slovenian Press Agency (STA). “The current Slovenian Government has recently yielded to pressure, mainly from the EU. They released STA funding, after almost a year of manipulation. They took note of the names for the European Delegated Prosecutors, after more than a year of legal farce.’ But the MEP warned that the financial difficulties of the STA were not resolved, as the contract for next year has not yet been concluded. And in the case of prosecutors, she believed that the decision on temporary nomination made a mockery of independent institutions.

Joveva notes that the Government’s relenting is only feigned and that pressure has been mounting elsewhere. “There are attempts to subordinate, silence or smear the prosecutors, the judiciary, the police, the media, NGOs, the independent, and regulatory agencies. In this, they use all means available.” In the communication of the ruling structures there lurks the desire to destroy institutions, conspiracy theories about communists are used as a cover for corruption and clientelism. “This is not about defending traditional values. It is about negating them,” said the MEP. She concluded her address by asking:

“Our institutions have managed to withstand so far on account of a rich democratic tradition and the integrity of individuals. But for how much longer? Where are strong, specific responses? When will you learn that the situation in one Member State affects the whole of the EU?”

The Renew Europe group also expressed growing concern about the political situation in Slovenia. After half a year of delay, the Slovenian Government has now nominated two national prosecutors to the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO), operational since 1 June 2021. Nevertheless, the group remains deeply concerned about the Government’s political interference in the process of appointing the prosecutors. Prime Minister Janez Janša dissolved the previous appointment. The group wrote that it could not tolerate a Member State intervening and undermining the function of an EU judicial body. For that reason, the group’s Members request answers from the Slovenian authorities.

Unfortunately, this is not the only example of worrying backsliding on the rule of law, as was also pointed out by Joveva:

“The Government’s aggressive attempts to seize control over independent media and the Prime Minister’s attacks on journalists and political opponents on social media shows that press freedom and fundamental rights are also at risk. The European Commission must act to immediately stop the attempts of Janez Janša’s Government to politicise key democratic institutions and challenge press freedom.”

On Thursday, 18 November 2021, MEP Irena Joveva was invited to be a speaker at an online panel on human rights and media freedom organised by the European Liberal Forum and the Institute Novum. Respect for human rights is inseparable from democracy, which itself is based on the free expression of different views. The media play a crucial role in this by ensuring the flow of diverse and accurate information that reaches a wide spectrum of society. In recent years, both democracy and freedom of expression have been declining and the media are increasingly facing pressure on their independent work. At the same time, the widespread use of social media facilitates the proliferation of fake news, misinformation and manipulation, which, unfortunately, has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The debate focused on the initiatives launched and discussed at the EU and international level to provide a clear and decisive response by the democratic community and on the examination of proposals for actions to be undertaken.

Irena Joveva first responded to concerns about the state of media freedom in Slovenia and in the EU. She strongly condemned political and other pressure on journalists and media aiming to suppress independent reporting. “The increasing pressure exerted on journalists today can ultimately lead to extreme cases such as the murders of investigative journalists in Malta, Slovakia, Greece and elsewhere,” she stressed. The MEP believes that only independent and objective information can provide the right solutions to the challenges that arise. In her opinion, the press and journalism in general are also threatened by wider factors such as lower readership of classical print media and the shift to digital platforms. Local media compete with the largest media outlets on the global market, and users expect information free of charge, while stable digital media funding models have yet to be developed. In this area, Joveva highlighted a solution: “To a certain extent, at least, the area is governed by the Copyright Directive, which gives publishers some negotiating rights, but to date only big countries have made progress. A lot of legislation is already in place or being drafted, but it attempts to address different issues to create a comprehensive and horizontal legislative framework with a feasible solution.”

In addition to these wider factors, the illiberal populists attempting to destroy media freedom and the commercial interests of owners who put pressure on editorial independence also lead to a decline in media freedom.

“In Slovenia, this trend is already visible. The Janša Government is exerting as much pressure as possible on our public media, it has suspended funding to the national press agency, it is appointing obliging editors and a director to the public service broadcaster, directing advertising revenues to its party’s propaganda media, while at the same time denigrating and discrediting independent critical journalists at every opportunity,”

she added and also expressed her concern about the situation in Hungary and Poland, where the public service media have largely been forced into subordination. Joveva counts on the adoption of a legal framework at the EU level with sufficient safeguards that will provide journalists and editors with the necessary conditions and power so that they can defend themselves freely and carry out their work without interference from politics or their media owners.

“The atmosphere in Slovenia is increasingly radical, which is poisoning people-to-people relations. I feel the hardship of people in difficult times, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Responsible decision-makers working in the civil domain should address problems and act as quickly, clearly and decisively as possible,” she stressed in her answer to a question about xenophobic attacks, harassment and intimidation, which are oftentimes also directed at her. Such situations and the fictitious creation of confrontation can be abused by individuals or the media for mounting attacks of a personal nature that feed their electoral base and strengthen their visibility. When substantive arguments are exhausted, people resort to a personal level, which speaks volumes about them.

Responding to a question about the decline in press and media freedom in some EU Member States, Joveva said that both the Parliament and the Commission were well aware of that. Next to the Copyright Directive, she underscored the importance of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive, which affords greater editorial independence, but both directives will need to be fully transposed by the Member States. “The Parliament is currently working on the so-called anti-SLAPP Directive to establish legal safeguards and ensure protection of journalists from strategic lawsuits when legislation is misused to silence journalists and other public oversight bodies,” she added. In this regard, it is important to provide judges with a mechanism to swiftly resolve such legal cases. “Another important piece of legislation to be presented next year will be the European Media Freedom Act, which will be the most comprehensive media legislation aimed at protecting independence in both private and public media. Specific solutions have not yet been articulated, but the act is expected to create full transparency of media advertising — in particular in state-owned enterprises, as well as transparency of ownership,” Joveva explained about the law, to which she, too, wishes to contribute. “It’s time to treat the media sector as it deserves, as it has a huge, if not the biggest impact on democracy itself,” she concluded.

On Friday, 12 November 2021, MEP Irena Joveva participated in the Young Changemakers Academy 2021 event organised by the European Liberal Forum (ELF) and the European Liberal Youth (LYMEC). She opened a roundtable discussion where young people exchanged views with Renew Europe MEPs and spoke about the European Union’s current challenges and the Conference on the Future of Europe.

In her opening address, MEP Joveva explained why she decided to become involved in politics as a young person. She pointed out that many things in politics perturbed her. In particular, the fact that the voices of young people were not heard or that politicians were talking about young people, but not with them. “In this term of office there are many more younger MEPs than ever before and together we are trying to drive change and bring new, fresh ideas to the political world. To show that we are not all the same in politics.

Joveva highlighted an important topic that she, as a member of the Committee on Culture and Education (CULT), is following with particular interest – social media regulation and media protection in general. As a former journalist, she is very concerned about the media situation in Europe. “We are facing increasingly aggressive attempts by governments to silence free media in Poland, Hungary and unfortunately also in my home country, Slovenia, which is already under scrutiny by the European institutions because of the political pressure on the media and journalists,” she said, noting that discussions on both sides seem to be endless. “Some people endlessly try to protect media freedom, while others attack it endlessly. I honestly think the pressure on the press today is unprecedented.” The good news is that new European legislation, the European Media Freedom Act, is being drafted. The new legislation will address a number of aspects of media freedom – from the challenges of digitisation and changes in access to information to the separation of public and private media and media market regulation. As such, the European Media Freedom Act is crucial to our democracies, according to Joveva.

The MEP concluded her address by calling on young people to become actively involved in the discussions on the future of Europe, both with members of national parliaments and MEPs, as young people have a wealth of good ideas, opinions and proposals.

The Young Changemakers Academy is a programme aimed at preparing young people to participate actively in their respective communities by shaping their future in given policy areas through advocacy projects by means of three seminars and networking support with other like-minded young people and senior political figures from around the world.

On Friday, November 5, 2021, MEP Irena Joveva virtually attended the ceremony of the prestigious prize European Parliament’s European Citizen’s 2021. The prize was awarded to the President of the Slovenian Association of Lymphoma and Leukemia Patients Kristina Modic and the Head of the Clinical Department of Hematology at the University Medical Center Ljubljana Prof. dr. Samo Zver for the project For Solidarity and Pan-European Health Progress of Cancer Patients. The prize winners organized a successful fundraising campaign for the purchase of equipment for advanced cancer treatment, promoting solidarity and highlighting the importance of access to public health services. At the same time, the project contributes to the implementation of the EU’s cancer plan.

In her speech, MEP Irena Joveva pointed out that thanks to media coverage of the fundraising campaign, all of us had an understanding of CAR-T cell therapy, and people joined forces as they have many times before. “You organized a very successful fundraising campaign to buy equipment, in the end, advanced cancer treatment equipment. You actually exceeded your original goal as you ended up with two devices.” The MEP thanked them for their dedication to patients. “We lack such people in today’s world. Because of that: Thank you for being you. Thank you for having such a big heart. I bow to you.”

She also addressed the current situation as the pandemic has really exposed existing gaps in our health systems. “During this time, as many as 100 million fewer screenings were done than normal, which leads to delays in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.” She also stated that cancer is on the rise in our country, and unfortunately occurs at all ages. The MEP is convinced that early recognition of symptoms, and consequently timely diagnosis and treatment are crucial, as these moments often not only save a patient’s life, but also help maintain its quality: “Every minute matters when it comes to cancer.” 

In her closing remarks, Joveva emphasized the shortcomings of our health care system in this area and said that such fundraising campaigns are necessary. “I can only imagine you have helped or will help who have been waiting for these devices. This is why I believe prevention, research should be strengthened, not only at home in Slovenia but also at the European level. The focus must be put on individual medicine and cooperation among policy makers, experts and researchers must be enhanced. There is no question that determining access to treatment based on your birthplace or social status is unacceptable.”

On Tuesday, October 26, 2021, the Committee on Culture and Education held a discussion on the state of media freedom with European Commissioner Vera Jourova on the state of media freedom. In her introductory speech, the Commissioner placed Slovenia alongside Poland and Hungary and expressed concern about “numerous attempts to undermine the sustainability and independence of the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) and public media service”. MEP Irena Joveva shares this concern and highlighted growing political pressure on the media in Slovenia. She named several proposals for legislative solutions that could help protect journalists and increase media freedom.

It was emphasized by the MEP at the beginning that the current pressure on the media was unprecedented. She cited the need for an Anti-SLAPP directive as well as discussion on so-called exceptions to the rules for editorial media that should not, in her view, apply equally to all media. Thus, Joveva proposed the use of delegated acts to waive the rules for those media with de facto editorial independence, which would also provide a view into the media itself.

Regarding the act or law on media freedom that is being prepared, she proposed harmonizing the rules and legislation of the Member States and establishing a common framework for public media at EU level that would also provide controls and binding safeguards to endure media freedom. She believes that the solution is to create new EU bodies or committees, made up of regulatory agencies for media supervision or representatives of the press. This would provide protection for the media when things go wrong, as it currently does in Slovenia with the STA (Slovenian Press Agency). Also, she stressed the issue of advertising transparency, especially in advertising transactions when state-owned companies or state funds are involved. She also called for the protection of private media from suspicious takeovers, such as TVN in Poland. She sees the solution in enhanced democratic control over all takeovers, which could also prevent the concentration of media ownership.

Commissioner Jourova also agrees, noting that ownership concentration is a broader media problem in the European Union (she cited the current French situation), especially now during the pandemic, when smaller media are financially weak. According to the commissioner, ownership has a significant influence on the way journalists write and report.

The MEP considers it most important to introduce rules to protect journalists from their owners, boards of directors from political parties and the public media from political interference. She is convinced that conditions must be created to protect journalists, as only then can they exercise the right to free speech. It is paramount that the European Union gains true strength in terms of media protection, otherwise it can only silently observe events like Slovenia, where democracy is on the biggest test, the MEP concluded.In her response, Commissioner Jourova expressed particular concern about state-funded media, citing the example of the KESMA Foundation in Hungary. Such pro-government media report only certain information and, as a result, have a key impact on the outcome of elections. Furthermore, they present a distorted picture of the state of democracy.

The Commissioner also emphasized the responsibility of the media as a whole, which should first “clean up its own mess”. If we are to protect the media sector and journalists, we must be sure we are defending professionals with high integrity who do their job in the interest of protecting objective facts, Jourova said. She added that there is a clear requirement for member states to provide funding for public service broadcasting, again pointing out Slovenia as an example. Transparency and disclosure of media ownership was also a topic discussed by the Commissioner, as she felt it is important for people to know who stands behind them.

You can watch the video with excerpts from the Commissioner’s introductory speech and MEP’s Irena Joveva’s questions and Vera Jourova’s answers below: