Investing in modern technologies for a green transition. It sounds logical to aim for that, doesn’t it? But let me tell you something: at the moment, energy companies investing in fossil fuels can sue our country because our strategic orientations are harming their profits. It defies logic, does it not?

Let’s start at the beginning. ECT is the acronym for the Energy Charter Treaty. It sounds great because we are stronger together and we like to work with others on the international stage. Energy is something we all need – both in our private lives and for our economy. Everything would be ‘fine’ if this treaty did not allow foreign companies’ investments in the fossil fuel industry to be protected against loss of profits. Not only are current investments insured … any hypothetical loss of profits for several years in advance, some for as long as two decades, are also insured. Profits that have not yet been made and might never be made. Profits that are themselves a result of robbing nature. Profits that will not encourage a greener direction.

What is most absurd about this treaty is that any dispute between companies and the state under this treaty is settled by bypassing the courts – both Slovenian and international – through private arbitration tribunals. Out of sight. Ignoring the Constitution. Ignoring the protection of citizens’ interests.

To give you an example: the British company Ascent Resources is suing Slovenia, claiming that Slovenia’s legislative changes have harmed their investment in an estimated amount of half a billion euros. Half a billion. Five hundred million. The dispute began when the Slovenian Environment Agency (ARSO) requested an environmental impact assessment for gas extraction in Petišovci, and the company estimated that this would probably harm their profits. Probably. It beggars belief!

I therefore warmly welcome the announcement by the Minister of Infrastructure, Bojan Kumer, that Slovenia intends to withdraw from the Treaty. The ECT is an obstacle to the green transition and runs contrary to both the strategic commitments of the Paris Agreement and the EU’s climate policy. It has long ceased to serve its purpose and is  only being used by huge companies that feel that they ‘are being wronged’. Is it wrong that, in the long term, we want to move towards non-polluting technology? Is it wrong that we want to encourage development and financial investment in the green transition? In both cases, the answer is, of course, negative.

There have also been attempts to fundamentally change the treaty. European countries have tried in vain to introduce sensible changes to the treaty and make it fit for the for climate-change-related insights. Well, it seems that others are not aware of the consequences resulting from treaties such as this one. We have pointed them out and tried to change things for the better. It all fell on deaf ears – and so we withdraw. Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, France have done it before us, and Belgium is steering in this direction as well. Now it is Slovenia’s turn.

Businesses need to start recognising that their only objective should not be to generate pure profit, but also to work for the well-being of people, society, the environment and the planet. Profit does not translate only into money. It also translates into one’s legacy – technological, economic and environmental. It is the latter that we keep forgetting.

Just as the disputes under this treaty have been resolved behind our backs, it is now time for us to turn our back on this treaty.

So long, ECT!

On Tuesday, 25 October 2022, MEP Irena Joveva and co-signatories sent a letter to Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament, calling for amendments to the Parliament’s Rules of Procedure in the articles relating to the voting procedure. She wrote, among other things, that first and foremost, accountability derives from transparency, which is only partially enabled under the current voting system.

In her letter, the MEP pointed out that the current voting method, which usually involves a show of hands, is disorganised, which is particularly problematic in plenary sessions. She stressed that the biggest issue is the lack of transparency, therefore all votes should be taken by roll call.

She noted that amending the Rules of Procedure was not uncommon, and that the Rules had previously been adapted in the interest of transparency. She and the co-signatories called for an amendment to Rule 187(1), which states that “As a general rule, Parliament shall vote by show of hands”. She pointed out that this approach permits MEPs as elected representatives to hide their votes and avoid their positions being known to the public, which Joveva strongly opposes.

She added that the current voting method through a show of hands is time-consuming and that, despite the excellence of interpreters, there are delays in interpreting. Furthermore, the vice-president chairing the voting session is often unable correctly to assess the majority, which can lead to mistakes, even wrong voting results.

The MEP also pointed out that during the pandemic, all votes were taken by roll call, which she believed had proven to be very efficient. She added that for democracy to function, it is necessary to strive to ensure transparent operation and accountability to the citizens of the European Union.

As a key thought of the letter, Joveva emphasised that, “In our work, we represent all EU citizens, which means we must actualize the legitimacy of our work by being accountable to them. As we know, accountability derives from transparency.”

Letter on amending the Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament to increase transparency (English version)

Letter on amending the Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament to increase transparency (Slovenian version)

On Wednesday, 26 October 2022, MEP Irena Joveva (GS/RE) was invited by her colleague Valter Flego to address the participants of the LABINA: connecting Europe through art and tolerance event, where they talked about how culture serves European integration. Joveva pointed out that culture builds bridges – be it between people of different ages, religions or languages, or between countries themselves. Culture, she said, provides us with knowledge, tolerance, empathy, admiration and beauty.

With this in mind, the MEP would like to see more similar events taking place throughout the Balkans, as it is only through getting to know different cultures and cultural heritage that we can truly grow.

“Together we can improve lives and transform them for the better.”

To watch the recording of the address, click here.

During its plenary session in Strasbourg, MEP Irena Joveva addressed the European Parliament on the anti-European far right in the EU.

In her speech, she said there had been enough of turning a blind eye, as it is high time to free Europe from kleptocratic autocratic tendencies and to defend our values and the Union. She referred to a wide range of horrendous acts, such as the curtailment of human rights, attacks on free journalism and the LGBTQI+ community, disrespect for the rule of law, corrupt practices and the spread of intolerance – all of which are supported or even encouraged by Europe’s far-right.

Joveva stressed that all of the above points to a decline of democratic values and to the rise of illiberal tendencies. To illustrate this, she used the example of the far right in Slovenia engaging in a fictitious struggle against the long-defunct communism.

She concluded her speech by warning that the lack of action and solutions creates a breeding ground for the far right to continue to thrive and spread. In her closing remark, she said that the spread of the far right means a constant erosion of the foundations of the EU.

You can watch MEP Joveva’s speech here.

Today, MEP Irena Joveva addressed the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg on EU–Western Balkans relations in the light of the new enlargement package.

In her address, she reminded the European Union that it has been promising EU membership to the Western Balkan countries for years, but that the enlargement project is not being implemented in practice.

The MEP quoted part of the lyrics from a song by a well-known music group: “prazna obečanja su najbolja reklama” (empty promises are the best publicity) and explained that this is exactly how people from the Western Balkans feel, while in reality they are no less European than EU citizens.

“A promise is a promise and promises are to be kept.”

Joveva stressed that we need to be as strict on the rule of law, media freedom, human rights and other criteria in the Union as we demand from our neighbours. In her view, there are some Member States within the Union that are anything but paragons of virtue.

You can watch the full speech by the MEP by clicking here.

MEP Irena Joveva addressed the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg on the topic of the 2022 United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference (also known as COP27) in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.

She began her speech with the slogan ‘We Are Running Out of Time‘, under which the climate relay is currently running from Glasgow, Scotland (the host of last year’s COP26) to Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, the host of COP27 in November. The MEP added that tackling climate change requires all individuals acting at all levels.

In her speech, Joveva warned that despite the Paris Agreement, we are not close to meeting the commitments we made and that countries need to make new commitments to reduce emissions and stick to those already made. She also said that the sheer number of natural disasters already experienced should have woken us from our slumber.

Joveva ended her speech with the thought that we should have realised by now that we are running out of time.

You can watch MEP Joveva’s speech here.

In today’s plenary address on the topic of continued controls at the internal borders of the Schengen area, MEP Irena Joveva, in the light of the recent judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union, stressed that the border controls in the Schengen area that are not based on legitimate reasons are unacceptable. They prevent the free movement of people and impede the commuting of cross-border workers. The free movement of people is a cornerstone of the European Union and, as such, of vital importance to Europeans. Preventing it can sow the seeds of mistrust between Member States and create discord among them. Since the reasons for the current internal border controls are far-fetched, the European Commission should present an official opinion, thereby protecting the Union’s interest, and the Member States should reach an agreement on the matter. That is possible. In this respect, borders exist only in the mind, she added.

You can watch the full speech by clicking here.

MEP Irena Joveva expects answers from the managers of digital platforms (Netflix, Disney+, Amazon) as to why languages with fewer speakers are being discriminated against. She expects this practice to be eliminated as soon as possible, she told the newspaper Delo.

During the interview, the MEP pointed out that we should not be afraid of multinationals withdrawing from the Slovenian market, as to them an established market is always very attractive. Considering that Slovenia is part of the single European market, restricting access to digital platform services would be even more controversial than the inequality of the Slovenian language. She stressed that when entering a new market, it is the responsibility of digital platforms to also offer services in the language of the country they are entering, in our case Slovenian:

It should be self-evident that Slovenian subtitles and interfaces are offered upon entering the Slovenian market.”

She believes that the Slovenian language could make digital platforms such as Amazon, Netflix and Disney+ more attractive to an even higher number of new users.

Furthermore, it is not only about language discrimination and the resulting inaccessibility, but also about supporting local translators.

She also spoke about the upcoming meetings with the platforms, explaining that both sides want to settle matters through “soft regulation”.

“I will also mention to them that there are official EU documents and strategies on this very topic, and that even if they are not legally binding, this can be changed in the coming years if necessary.”

Read more in today’s edition of the newspaper DELO, where you will also find details of the expected changes to the Slovenian legislation.

On Wednesday, 5 October 2022, MEP Irena Joveva attended a meeting between the European Parliament delegation and the North Macedonian Parliament (the Sobranie) and spoke about the state of the media and civil society in North Macedonia. First, she expressed her satisfaction at the unblocking of the accession negotiations and then, among other things, congratulated Macedonian civil society for acting as a guardian of society, protecting human rights and fighting for a better and fairer country.

During the two-day exchange of views between the two Parliaments, MEP Joveva, as Co-Chair, started her address in Macedonian and then focused on the state of the media and civil society in North Macedonia, which she follows closely. She praised the improvement in terms of media freedom in the country, which has progressed to a better level compared to other countries in the Western Balkans region. She added that the country still had some way to go in the area of fighting disinformation and ensuring transparency of state institutions.

Joveva also touched on the European Media Freedom Act. She said that the act was necessary to protect media freedom in the European Union, as political interference and government control should have no place in journalism. She stressed that media freedom is of the utmost importance for a functioning democracy.

To continue, Joveva welcomed that the accession negotiations were finally opened after they had been blocked for a long time by some EU Member States. In her speech, she also mentioned young people, who suffer the most from environmental, political and economic impacts. Other topics discussed by the participants included the energy crisis, the environment, the rule of law, good neighbourly relations, and cooperation in the region.

Referring to civil society organisations, she said: ‘They must be involved and consulted at all stages of decision-making, especially at local level in the policy-making phases.’

In conclusion, Joveva expressed her wish that the strategy for cooperation with North Macedonian civil society be implemented in a timely and transparent manner. She concluded her speech with the thought that the North Macedonian leaders should continue on the path of improvement strengthening an independent media, protecting journalists as well as the environment.

The delegation to the EU-North Macedonia Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), vice-chaired by MEP Joveva, met with members of the European Parliament and the Sobranie in the presence of representatives of the European Commission. The delegation meets in person twice a year to discuss the work of the two parliaments, their cooperation, joint activities and the approximation of North Macedonia to the European Union. The two-day exchange of views was followed by a vote on recommendations.

MEP Irena Joveva addressed the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg on the topic of the European Commission’s proposal for measures under the Rule of Law Conditionality Regulation in the case of Hungary.

In her address, she pointed out that the Commission had finally proposed freezing Hungary’s funds under the Rule of Law mechanism. She highlighted three key problems: that the move only affects a part of the funds, that money still flows steadily to Hungary from the current budget — despite corruption and the subversion of the rule of law, and that this is clearly a result of some sort of political deal. Along the same vein, she stressed that compromises with illiberal governments cannot be possible.

Her speech can be viewed here.