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.

Today, during the plenary session in Strasbourg, MEP Irena Joveva addressed the European Parliament on the Health Union.

In her contribution, she pointed out that health is a sine qua non and that the quality of treatment and access to medicines should not depend on a person’s country of origin. She added that the mandate of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) should be strengthened and stressed the importance of successfully managing cross-border threats and public health risks.

Strengthening the mandate of the ECDC will enable the European Union to be better prepared and to coordinate its response to any future health crisis. Better cooperation between a wide range of authorities at all levels, the collection of timely and comparable data across the EU, and more accurate monitoring of national health systems will make it easier to fight disease outbreaks. The Health Union will ensure a stronger EU response to public health emergencies.

Here address can be viewed here.

Today, MEP Irena Joveva addressed the European Parliament during its plenary session in Strasbourg on the topic of the discrimination against the Slovenian language on digital platforms.

In her address, Joveva maintained that Members States and languages of the European Union are equal, and that the EU has a common market whose rules in the physical world must also apply in the digital one. She said that some multinationals operating in the European market are allowed to ignore this. She stressed that no discrimination is permissible and that everyone should have the right to choose, including, for example, to watch a series or a film subtitled or dubbed into their mother tongue.

She concluded her address by saying that no language is more important or less important than others, and that European multilingualism must be respected at all levels, including on all digital platforms. She urged all MEPs experiencing a similar situation to stand together.

Her address can be viewed here.

On Sunday, 25 September 2022, MEP Irena Joveva attended the EUROPE 2050 event in Warsaw, Poland. In her speech, Joveva pointed out that illiberal tendencies are still very much present in the EU, and that in some places the situation is even getting worse. She added that illiberalism is one of the major challenges in the EU, which she illustrated, among other things, with the example of Slovenia between 2020 and 2022.

During this time, the Slovenian Government, headed by Janez Janša, has vehemently attacked the public media, and threatened and pressurised journalists in order to curtail media freedom and subordinate the media landscape to its arbitrariness. At the same time, it seriously jeopardised the existence of the Slovenian Press Agency and did many other things. According to the MEP, the Slovenian electorate finally stood up to this and gave the victory in this year’s parliamentary elections to a liberal party.

I am incredibly proud of what we have managed to achieve. We have indeed won an important and much needed battle against illiberalism. But it would be foolish to believe that we have won the war and wiped out the illiberal tendencies of our extremist right-wing party.

She pointed out that the consequences of the actions by the previous government are most visible in the current state of the Slovenian public service broadcaster RTV, where the largest opposition party has gained absolute control and can thus continue its attacks on media freedom, preventing critical reporting.

Joveva explained that the EU was founded on six values: human rights, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and human dignity. “It is departing from these values that could potentially break the EU, as these values are becoming an increasingly popular target for attacks by leading actors of illiberal populism.”

Nevertheless, she is convinced that the Slovenian liberal bloc will remain united and do everything to ensure that Slovenia never sees another Janez Janša government.

Besides MEP Irena Joveva, the event was attended by other prominent members of Renew Europe, including Stéphane Séjourné, its president in the European Parliament, Szymon Holownia, President of the Polska 2050 party, and Thierry Breton, European Commissioner.

The speech by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on the state of the Union was largely predictable. As expected, it revolved mainly around the current energy crisis resulting from the Russian aggression against Ukraine. The European Union has proposed a framework of measures, such as an electricity price cap, which will limit prices and ease the pressure on citizens and industry. I welcome this measure and would like to see it adopted as quickly as possible, as a coordinated response to the crisis will prevent differences from arising between Member States, which will be responsible for its implementation. What I regret in this area is the absence of more ambitious measures, such as a price cap on gas through joint purchases of imported gas. Even though an agreement has been reached among the Member States, there is no consensus yet on how the cap should be implemented. What is needed is a comprehensive and sustainability-oriented reform of the functioning of the Energy Union, which – also according to the European Commission President – is not working. I also missed a blueprint for more ambitious measures in the area of easing price pressures, mainly in the form of social measures for citizens or increased investment in the green transition, which could be done by setting up a dedicated fund (along the lines of the Recovery and Resilience Facility) or, alternatively, through the SURE programme or even a supplemented RepowerEU plan.

On the other hand, the President’s announcement of the creation of a new European Hydrogen Bank, to which €3 billion will be allocated from the Innovation Fund, is important, particularly from the perspective of achieving EU energy independence by ensuring sufficient renewable energy sources, as hydrogen can be an important tool to fill the energy and investment gap. The expansion of the hydrogen market will be based on matching supply and demand and is directly linked to the stated objectives of the RepowerEU plan.

The Commission President devoted a large part of her speech to the war, developments and the situation in Ukraine. Since the beginning of the Russian aggression, the European Union has taken a united approach to helping Ukraine and its people, as well as all those who have fled as refugees to safe havens in Member States. The extremely important message in this area focuses precisely on this solidarity, and the President has announced that the kind of behaviour we have now shown must be the new standard for future migration policy issues. The EU’s migration policy is poorly regulated and even the new 2020 Pact on Migration lacks a sustainable system in place that would work in a fair, quick and efficient manner. As I have often stressed, the Union’s migration policy must be impartial, fair and consistent with the respect for fundamental human rights, which is why I have high expectations of the announced legally binding solidarity in this area.

After the EU granted Ukraine candidate status in June this year, President von der Leyen announced Ukraine’s integration into the European Single Market and the area of free movement. This is a major and important step which – in the post-war situation and once normal trade has resumed – will have good economic effects for the whole Union. Still, I cannot ignore the bitter aftertaste of this positive news, thinking of the Western Balkan countries, which have held candidate status for many years without similar benefits. Despite being high on the priority list in the previous annual addresses, there has been no real movement towards the EU’s enlargement, and in this year’s address, the Western Balkans only merited a fleeting mention by the President. Mostly as a sign of courtesy. But repetition of empty promises only undermines the Union’s credibility further, both outside and within the Union.

The European Union, like many other countries around the world, finds itself in a situation of record low unemployment. Nevertheless, we are facing an unusually high number of job vacancies, which is a direct reflection of misdirected education systems. During the current term, we have repeatedly pointed to the need to overhaul both the general education system and vocational education and training, as well as to the need to acquire new skills for the professions of the future. I am therefore delighted about the announced increase in investment in vocational education and training, and I welcome the President’s decision to make 2023 the European Year of Skills. I hope that the already established Skills Agenda for Europe will be placed at the forefront of these endeavours.

In the area of health, where the EU played an important role in the efforts to tackle the coronavirus pandemic (notably by setting up a strategy for vaccine production and distribution and the COVAX Facility), very important strides have also been made in the functioning of the European Health Union, the EU4Health programme, the Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan, and in promoting the EU’s single market for digital health services and products through the creation of the European Health Data Space. It is also time to take important steps in the field of mental health, as mental health issues affect 84 million Europeans. It really is high time to create adequate, accessible and affordable support and help for all citizens, which is something the European Parliament has long been striving for.

Perhaps the most unexpected element of the address was von der Leyen’s strong message in support of a convention to reform the EU as such, including by amending the basic treaties on the functioning of the EU, which was, after all, one of the main conclusions of the Conference on the Future of Europe and therefore a citizens’ demand. In fact, as MEPs, we have been pushing in this direction for quite some time.

Another important item was the announcement of the reform of the Stability and Growth Pact, as the current one is outdated and unrealisable. In times of constant crises, countries need to be allowed a certain investment flexibility to respond effectively. I, for one, would have liked to see more flexibility in investments in digitalisation and the green transition.

I am pleased that the Commission President has reiterated her determination to uphold the rule of law both inside and outside the EU, and I sincerely hope that this will soon be translated into action. We have various mechanisms and levers in place to put pressure on Member States that do not respect the EU’s fundamental values, but we are failing to apply them consistently. I am referring in particular to the freezing of EU funds for Hungary under the triggered Rule of Law mechanism, and to the intransigence as regards the disbursements from the Resilience and Recovery Facility to countries that violate the rule of law or fail to meet the agreed milestones. I welcome the Defence of Democracy package, which could round off the mechanisms already in place and, at the same time, add new ones to focus on corruption.

To sum up: The President’s emotionally charged speech was not perfect and left many questions unanswered, but I am pleased that, despite the extremely difficult times in the face of the energy crisis, the President has not forgotten the objectives of the Green Deal. In her speech, she highlighted many of the right issues and proposed some good and extremely important solutions, which I really hope will not remain just that – proposals.

– Irena

Today, 15 September 2022, MEP Irena Joveva sent an open letter to the CEOs of digital platforms Amazon Prime, Disney+ and Netflix, urging them to make their services and content available in Slovene. European citizens deserve the right to use content in their mother tongue, regardless of the prevalence of a particular language, she wrote.

In her letter, she expressed her concern and disappointment with the situation, explaining that such practices are discriminatory and that multilingualism, both in the European Union and more broadly, is a value of which we can be proud and which should be promoted.

Special attention should be paid to less-spoken languages, highlighted Joveva in her letter, referring to the provisions of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, the EU Treaty and Directive 2010/13/EU (Audiovisual Media Services Directive).

She said the content offered by these companies also plays an important role in the education, socialisation and upbringing of children who are not yet proficient in foreign languages. The content is also less accessible to all those who do not understand foreign languages.

The European Union recognises the existence of a multilingual digital single market where everyone deserves equal treatment with equal accessibility regardless of their location and start of provision of a digital service, therefore Joveva called on the CEOs of these companies to consider making all official EU languages equally accessible on online streaming media platforms.

The MEP also points out that although Slovenian legislation, specifically Article 20(2) of the Public Use of the Slovene Language Act, should be sufficient, problems arise due to the fact that the said digital platforms are not registered in Slovenia. Therefore, in her opinion, the Audiovisual Media Services Directive should be urgently transposed into national legislation, which would enable the introduction of precise requirements for such translations and to remedy the existing shortcomings.

“Let me remind you that we, as members of the European Parliament, like to say that we are united in diversity, and I firmly believe that this is something that we should very much promote, something that every European should fight for and, above all, something that every company operating in the single European market should respect. It is not so much a question of whether or not there is a legal basis requiring the use all European languages. It is about the right of each and every individual, and about the fact that it is our diversity and all of the beautiful European languages that shape our European mosaic. Let us give all Europeans the dignity and respect they deserve – in their mother tongue.”

The MEP sent the letter to the CEOs of the companies in question in Slovene. You can read it in full below:

Letter regarding the (non-)use of the Slovene language on your digital platforms in Slovenia (available only in Slovenian language)