On Wednesday, 14 December 2022, MEP Irena Joveva addressed colleagues and the public at the plenary session in Strasbourg on the situation of journalists and the implications for the rule of law. She believes that it is high time we also set standards for determining the quality of the practice of the journalistic profession.

In her address, Joveva emphasised that not everyone can be a journalist just because, for example, they want to appear on television, let alone because they want to fulfil the goals and wishes of a particular political faction. She therefore stressed that it is essential to set standards for determining the quality of the practice of the journalistic profession. In her view, the forthcoming Media Freedom Act could be a good opportunity to do so.

She also spoke about ensuring the safety of journalists:

Ensuring the safety of journalists is a prerequisite for effective media freedom, which is one of the cornerstones of the rule of law.”

Joveva also touched on the quality of reporting by journalists:

We often mention the quality of reporting, which affects the credibility of the information provided. And with the rise of disinformation, interference in editorial policy and (self)censorship this quality is steadily declining.”

You can find MEP Joveva’s full address HERE.

At the December plenary session in Strasbourg, Slovenian Prime Minister Robert Golob addressed the European Parliament in the latest “This is Europe” debate. He called on the EU institutions to take more decisive action on energy, a sentiment echoed by MEP Irena Joveva in her speech.

Plenary hall during the address by Prime Minister Golob.

Among other things, the MEP emphasised the need for institutional reforms by opening up the basic treaties, abolishing unanimity, democratising processes and creating a genuine European public discourse.

She added that, despite the efforts and achievements made, she would welcome a higher level of ambition at the European Union level:

”I would also like to see unity in our common responses to mitigate this crisis and in setting up a common framework for the necessary investments for a green Europe that is energy-independent from all authoritarian states.”

According to Joveva, the European Union is losing much-needed credibility, both because of Member States taking advantage of the veto in the Council, which leads to unacceptable compromises, and because of blatant systemic corruption in the Member States, and above all at the level of individuals, including in the European Parliament, which she condemns in the strongest terms.

She concluded by saying that substantive debates with leaders, such as this one, are genuinely important for the future of Europeans.

MEPs Irena Joveva and Klemen Grošelj with Slovenian Prime Minister Robert Golob on the occasion of his address to the European Parliament.

About This is Europe debates:

This is Europe is a series of plenary debates with the heads of state and government of the European Union Member States during the plenary sessions of the European Parliament. During these debates, EU leaders share their views on the current state of the EU and solutions to the challenges facing Europe.

You can watch the full speech by clicking here.

On Tuesday, 6 December 2022, MEP Irena Joveva took part in a stream organised by Euranet Plus, a network of professional media companies, on youth participation in politics. In the first part, she and two fellow MEPs talked mainly about the involvement of young people in decision-making processes, while in the second part, they played a mini-golf video game with online influencers while answering their questions.

MEP Joveva said that she tries to explain things that also concern young people as clearly as possible to them: “I try to explain to young people the challenges I am facing or all of us are facing in a short and as understandable way as possible. I try to bring my work closer to them so that they understand that politics does not have to be an inexplicable and complicated business. Therefore, I tend to use simpler language and sometimes humour, in moderation, and combine that with personal circumstances to involve young people more in issues that affect them, too.

Erasmus+ and ALMA are just two of the many programmes that young people can use to see and feel Europe. This is one of the direct benefits of the Union for them. There was a question from a young participant in the debate about what currently interests young people the most. The three MEPs agreed that it is jobs, environmental challenges and security.

As the debate moderator rightly mentioned, young people have been given a central role in the Conference on the Future of Europe. In this regard, Joveva pointed out:

I hope that in the future we will talk more with and about young people than we have done so far. MEPs do not always sufficiently ask young people what their views are when we are drafting legislation. For myself, I communicate with them, meet them regularly and encourage them to share their thoughts, ideas and fears with me, so that I can answer certain questions Imyself have. I believe that this year, which is not over yet, only marked the beginning of a debate that will make our work even more youth-centred.”

In addition to Joveva, two other MEPs, Tilly Metz (Greens/EFA) and Dace Melbarde (EPP), participated in the debate. In the second part of the stream, they were joined by online influencers Marcos Moschovidis, Karim Hallal Peche and Luke Fry.

The debate was moderated by Quentin Deschandelliers, a former assistant in the European Parliament and online content creator who runs the MEPassistant profile on Instagram and Twitch.

You can watch the recording of the event HERE.

On Thursday, 8 December 2022, MEP Irena Joveva hosted an interactive debate with students on media freedom (Medijska svoboda? Bo, da!), where they discussed the forthcoming European Media Freedom Act (MFA). Among other things, Joveva believed that this regulation should be shaped as ambitiously as possible.

In addition to the MEP, the debate was attended by Asta Vrečko, Minister of Culture, Lenart J. Kučić, Media Adviser to the Minister, and Marko Milosavljević, professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences.

In her address, Ms Joveva focused on the developments at the European level, saying that in terms of the European Union’s competences in the media field the Act truly is revolutionary, and that for that reason the Union will have to find solutions that are appropriate for all Member States.

She stressed that certain standards absolutely must be ensured, particularly those of additional, European protection of the media and journalists and their independence. She added that MEPs are often accused of legislating only as dictated by lobbyists, which is why she wants to change this and to hear the voice of young people who will co-shape this area in the future.

Next to speak was Minister Vrečko who highlighted the importance of the forthcoming Act for the Slovenian media landscape. In her view, the Act will boost the Union’s democratic credentials, and Slovenia will contribute constructively to both the formulation of the regulation and its implementation.

Kučić followed up on the Minister’s words and said that the Act will not necessarily solve the main problems in our media space, but will undoubtedly encourage more intensive problem-solving in this area. He added that the political message is clear, as we do not want the European media space to be marred by non-transparent public advertising in the media, misuse of public funds in order to silence journalists or by controlling them.

Milosavljević concluded the opening debate by recalling that Slovenia was one of the countries that were the reason for this Act in the first place. He stressed that we should not forget what happened during the previous government (led by Janez Janša) and that not everything that concerns freedoms can be taken for granted.

The speakers agreed that the Act still needs to be further refined.

The second part of the event was devoted to an interactive workshop for students, who examined the separate thematic components covered by the Act and discussed possible amendments and solutions. This sparked discussions on both the current and the past situation, what could be improved and how. At the end of the thorough examination of the sets of provisions, the students, in groups, presented their interesting and useful proposals to the speakers. More details on this will be published in the coming week.

You can watch the full recording of the speakers’ speeches HERE.

On Thursday, 8 December 2022, MEP Irena Joveva met students of the Ljubljana Conservatory of Music and Ballet with whom she talked about her career path, the challenges facing young people, the education system of today, fast fashion, the protests in Iran, and particularly about the climate crisis and the environment. Small changes can make a big difference, insisted the MEP.

The students asked whether Joveva had ever had the opportunity to meet Greta Thunberg, to which she answered in the affirmative. The well-known environmental activist addressed the members of the Committee on the Environment, of which Joveva is a member, at the beginning of the current term of office.

The environment was the main topic of interest for young people participating in the event. Joveva explained the very active role the EU plays in this field: “The EU has a plan to tackle the climate crisis. We have adopted the very ambitious European Green Deal. And rightly so. Its key objective is to make Europe a carbon-neutral continent by 2050.”

Young people wanted to know what they themselves can do to help preserve the environment. In response, Joveva mentioned the separation of waste, the use of public transport, which she strongly advocates, eating less meat… At the same time, she said that she would like to see more understanding in today’s society.

When asked what she likes about her job, she explained: “As a public figure, I can afford to talk about taboos. Because I want them to be broached. This includes topics such as abortion or having a child while serving as a Member of Parliament, or about mental health, for example.” What she also likes about her job is that she can present politics as something good, and at the same time she tries to make sure that people don’t regard her as in any way superior because of her job: “I don’t want people to see me as something more just because I’m holding this position. I was elected to this office and I wish to present politics as something good. Politicians should not all be tarred with the same brush.

When the students inquired if she would choose this profession again, she replied with a touch of humour: “It depends on the circumstances. If I had to choose a profession, I would love to proofread politicians.

Of course,  the participants could not avoid the topic of youth policies, which is one of Joveva’s key priorities. In her view, the key challenge now is the ban on unpaid internships across the EU, something she is fighting hard for.

The students were also interested in Joveva’s views on the crackdown on protests in Iran. She explained that she strongly condemns the attacks on protesters and civil society in Iran. To this end, the European Parliament has already adopted a resolution expressing its strong support for the peaceful protest movement in Iran, in particular for the young women who lead and participate in demonstrations. The resolution also strongly condemns the indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force by the Iranian security forces against the masses, which has already resulted in numerous deaths. Still, a resolution is not a legislative document, she pointed out. Furthermore, the European Parliament, acting as an independent institution, has broken off relations with Iran.

To conclude the event, Joveva wished the students all the best and much understanding, curiosity, success and health.

“For me personally, it is not hard because I know who I am and how I want to stay. And above all, I know what I do not wish to become, ” said MEP Irena Joveva in a lengthy interview on the Gorenjska Television (GTV) channel about her work. She also talked about media freedom, the energy crisis, working for the benefit of young people and answered the question of what would be the first thing about the European Parliament she would change if she could.

She began by explaining that for MEPs too, almost everything has gone back to the way it was and that physical presence is again the norm, with the notable exception of the meetings of the Renew Europe political group, of which she is a member. She regretted that the majority in Parliament had refused to take advantage of the good practices of the system built during the pandemic, especially in terms of transparency of votes.

She added that she tries to organise her work in Brussels in such a way that her days are filled with work, but that this allows her to be more active in Slovenia.

She believes that politics is a matter of compromise and negotiation, but that respect for the rule of law, fundamental human rights and democracy is non-negotiable, and this is what the Renew Europe group, despite its diversity, is very much aware of. She added that “a typical day in the European Parliament is atypical”, as there is a great deal of variety ­–from weeks with more committee work, weeks devoted to the Renew Europe group and plenary weeks to missions across Europe and work in the country of origin. On top of that, there are many coordination and preparatory meetings, meetings with different organisations, experts, stakeholders and other MEPs, visitors to be received and events to be attended.

How does she stay true to herself? “Before going to bed, I think about the day and see if I can go to sleep without any guilt. The answer has to be yes, and it always is yes. If it weren’t, it would mean that I have “messed up” something in my life,” Joveva replied.

The discussion also turned to media freedom, where the MEP said that she did not believe for a moment that voters would not support changes for a better public service broadcaster. Still, she regretted that some politicians were abusing the right to a referendum through manipulation and lies, going so far as to compare the current situation in Slovenia with Nazi Germany, which was completely unacceptable.

She reiterated the importance of the European Media Freedom Act, for which she is likely to act as rapporteur on behalf of Renew Europe. The Act will bring a new set of rules and mechanisms aimed at promoting media pluralism and independence.

The presenter also asked the MEP about Hungary and Poland, and Joveva responded that today these two countries would not be admitted to the European Union if measured by the standards required from potential new members. “We can see that there has been no consideration of the possibility that the situation in a country could worsen after it has joined the Union. We do not have sufficient mechanisms in place and I would like to stress that the situation in Hungary and Poland is really worrying.”

Another topic mentioned was the letter to the directors of digital platforms about the non-use of Slovene, and the MEP said that she was happy to see that things were moving, albeit slowly, and that it is gratifying to know that one had contributed to these developments. She insisted that it does not matter whether we speak foreign languages or not, as the right to access content in one’s mother tongue is something fundamental, and, most importantly, that blind, partially sighted, deaf and hard of hearing people should not be discriminated against.

Touching on the current energy crisis, Joveva first reaffirmed her resolute support for Ukraine in its legitimate struggle for existence in the face of intense Russian aggression, and then went on to present her opinion that the energy crisis could be solved by putting a price cap on Russian oil, but that it should be as low as possible:

“The long-term solution is to invest in renewable energy and to provide the necessary infrastructure for real independence from fossil fuels.” Joveva also called for a fund similar to the Recovery and Resilience Facility.

Asked what would be the first thing that she would change in the functioning of the European Parliament, she replied that she would determine a single seat for it, either in Brussels or Strasbourg, as this is the only sensible thing to do from an environmental, financial and logistical point of view. Another thing she would wish to see is that the work of the MEPs were followed and presented to the public more comprehensively.

The MEP concluded the interview with a New Year greeting, wishing the audience a peaceful Christmas and a healthy and happy 2023, and above all that we might live in a world where manipulators, liars, war profiteers and divisive people do not stand a chance.

You can watch the full interview with the MEP here.

On Friday, 25 November 2022, MEP Irena Joveva attended a “European Picnic” event organised by the Europe Direct Pomurje information point, where guests and students from the Murska Sobota Gymnasium discussed the topic of media literacy. The MEP stressed that media literacy is crucial in all areas of our lives, as it determines how we receive and evaluate information.

Joveva pointed out that the importance of media literacy should not least be borne in mind by school curriculum developers, who, when reforming teaching processes, should take into account current developments. In this context, she considers it particularly important to ensure that media literacy and critical thinking are taught as much as possible in primary and secondary schools. In particular, she would like pupils and students to see such content not as an additional burden but as something that will prove very useful in their lives. Joveva expressed her wish that there were more opportunities for action in this area, includingat the European level.

I have high hopes for the Action Plans that are to be adopted or have already been adopted by the European Commission and endorsed by the European Parliament. This includes, for example, the Digital Education Action Plan, the creation of the European Education Area and more.

The MEP went on to describe her own experience with disinformation, which today –without solid media literacy – is very difficult to identify. She shared what happened to her at the beginning of her term as an MEP, when a fake news story about her appeared on the internet and spread rapidly. Because it was so bizarre, she did not pay much attention to it or publicly deny it. She explained to the students that she still regrets not having reacted more quickly.

Joveva went on to explain how she sees the difference between hate speech and freedom of speech.

If someone says or writes that I am stupid because I am, for example, advocating for an independent Radio-Television Slovenia, that is freedom of speech, fine. Even if such language is uncouth. But if someone writes that I am stupid because my parents were not born in Slovenia, that is hate speech.” At the same time, she stressed the importance of cultural tolerance: “There should be no tolerance for intolerance. There is nothing wrong if we don’t agree about everything, but we have to be able to say it to each other in a civilised manner, without hate speech, and without being disrespectful.”

Another topic of discussion was the situation of journalists, and the MEP assessed that the conditions in which they currently work in Slovenia are abysmal. She also expressed her conviction that in this profession personal integrity is key.

All journalists must be aware of the purpose of their work and their mission. Their mission is to serve the public interest, i.e. to present to the people, to the public, information that is as objective as possible and fully credible.”

In addition to MEP Joveva, the debate, moderated by Grega Donša, was attended by Dr Sonja Merljak Zdovc, co-founder of online newspaper Časoris, and Simon Balažic, editor-in-chief of the Televizija AS TV channel.

To Whom It May Concern:

To avoid further manipulation or misunderstandings regarding our decision not to vote on the final text of the resolution designating the Russian Federation as a state sponsor of terrorism, we wish to provide further clarifications.

We chose the possibility to refrain from voting because none of the voting options fully corresponded to our positions. We are in no way against the main text of the resolution, nor do we have any reservations about it, as we have always strongly condemned the Russian aggression against Ukraine and we strongly support Ukraine’s struggle for its territorial integrity and independence and its efforts to defend against Russian aggression. This is evident from all our actions and personal endeavours to date. We have also demonstrated this by voting in favour of all previous resolutions on Ukraine. We have also endorsed, in the same plenary vote this week (Thursday, 24 November 2022), two actual legislative proposals: on financial assistance to Ukraine and on the non-recognition of Russian travel documents issued in the occupied territory.

Why were we unable to vote in favour of this particular resolution? During the vote on the amendments, we supported the amendments put forward by the Group of the Greens, which in our opinion would have made the final text of the resolution better (also in terms of international law or possible consequences). To summarise: one amendment by the Greens, which was not adopted in the end, would have recognised the Russian Federation as a state which uses means of terrorism. Their second amendment, which was also ultimately not adopted, would have called on the EU and its Member States to take concrete practical steps “in the face of such terrorist acts, using all existing instruments available” and to trigger “further restrictive measures against Russia”, while calling on the EU’s partners to adopt similar measures.

Furthermore, we took exception to the PiS party (Poland, a member party of the ECR Group in the European Parliament) managing to insert into the text of the resolution a part referring to the crash of a Polish plane in 2010 (with part of the then government on board) in the same article or paragraph that otherwise states the facts about the proven downing of a Malaysian plane in 2014.

We are always fighting against autocratic and, above all, violent regimes that kill innocent people, destroy infrastructure, displace populations and put the whole world in danger. This certainly applies to Russia, but also to all other current and past wars.

We would like to reiterate our strong condemnation of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and our strong support for Ukraine’s struggle for its territorial integrity. The option we have chosen in the vote this time does not change our position in any way.

Below you can find the amendments that we supported and were rejected (the original text on the left and the proposed amendments on the right).

Yours sincerely,

MEPs Irena Joveva and Dr Klemen Grošelj

Amendment 1

Amendment 2

On Tuesday, 22 November 2022, MEP Irena Joveva addressed the European Parliament during its plenary session in Strasbourg on the European Union’s response to the worsening crackdown on protests in Iran. Borrowing the slogan “Women! Life! Freedom!” she expressed support for protesters and joined their struggle.

Joveva began her speech by saying that Iran could be an idyllic country were it not for the leadership under the government in office and were it not possible for the world to see everything happening in Iran. She referred to the constant repression of the people and the curtailment of fundamental human rights, including use of the death penalty,

It is precisely this kind of repression and the tragic fate of Mahsa Amini and many others, stressed Joveva, that have resulted in the very opposite effect this time, uniting Iranian women and men in a revolution. “They have brought together all classes, the old and the young, ethnic minorities, oil industry workers, top athletes”, said the MEP, recalling that a few days ago, Iran’s national football team boycotted the national anthem at the World Cup in Qatar.

“In doing so, they demonstrated the importance of this revolution on the world stage and manifestly joined the struggle, which has thus far generally been led by Iranian women. This struggle for women’s rights is receiving support from all corners of the world – including from this House. We have broken off relations with Iran, and rightly so.”

You can watch the MEP’s address on this link.

On Thursday, 24 November 2022, MEP Irena Joveva addressed the European Parliament plenary in Strasbourg on the legacy of the European Year of Youth 2022, stressing that we must act and work with and for young people.

MEP Joveva started her speech by saying,

The European Year of Youth is coming to an end. Or, if you prefer: the European Year of Youth is not over yet.”

That is why, in her view, it is difficult to assess its ultimate success and legacy at this point. Instead, she said, we could talk about specific ideas on how to improve the living conditions of young people, as there are many areas that need to be addressed.

Unfortunately, the European Union had not been able to do so this year, although many events had been organised. She supports such events and initiatives, but they alone are not enough and they cannot compensate for all past and future needs.

She concluded her address by saying:

Unfortunately, young people do not have an umbrella law, directive or act that is dedicated specifically to them. That is why we need to make sure that we always take their issues forward. I do. To work with and for young people is the least we owe them.”

You can watch the MEP’s address on this link.

About the European Year of Youth

Every year since 1983, the European Commission has chosen a theme on which to launch an awareness-raising campaign, reinforced by debate and dialogue within the European Union.

In her State of the Union address last year, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced the European Year of Youth, stressing how important young Europeans are to building a better future and that they must be placed at the centre of attention in the wake of the pandemic. The year has seen a number of events and one third of the participants in the Conference on the Future of Europe were young people aged 16–25. The closing inter-institutional conference, Claim the Future, co-organised by young people, is taking place in early December. The European Parliament stresses that the circumstances surrounding the European Year of Youth have not all been optimal (delays in funding, late Commission announcements, the increased cost of living).

In this year’s address, the Commission President declared that 2023 will be the European Year of Skills, with a focus on education and training.