1592 + 193 = 53.

I knew that the wording of the legislative act was in urgent need of improvement.

I knew that some people would want to weaken it. Destroy it. Tear it apart.

I knew that many people –including at the negotiating table; I’m sorry to say – did not have the interests of the media and, consequently, the public at heart.

So I knew that… someone simply had to do it. Had to make the first sentence of this article a reality to the biggest extent possible. And so I did.

Had anybody asked me what the final text of the European Media Freedom Act would look like in early June, when the parliamentary negotiations started, my reply would certainly have been very cautious, and probably anything but optimistic. The situation was indeed dire, time was not on our side. First of all, we lost precious weeks of negotiation as the committees squabbled over who should be responsible for what. When it was finally agreed that the lead committee would be our committee, the Committee on Culture and Education, the attempts to dilute and undermine the text began. What followed was a month of extremely difficult negotiations, and I actually didn’t think that we would succeed. At least not sufficiently.

But we did. “We” means first and foremost my team: my assistant Rok, and my policy assistant Joanna. And yes, me too. Now I can safely say that we are the ones who have made the text better. We made it more ambitious. All of our amendments have been incorporated in one way or another into the text that was approved in the committee this morning.

If I were to explain everything we have achieved, it would take you until tomorrow to read it all. If not longer. So I have decided to take you through the key details in a bite-sized format over the coming weeks, and today I will focus very briefly on “just” the one that I personally consider the most important – especially in my own work.


The situation in the media is not ideal, not even close. It has been proven that journalists are being spied on, the public media are being dismantled and subjugated, some sort of quasi-media (i.e. propaganda machine) are being set up with murky funding, and media companies are being bought by individuals. Again, with (occasionally) murky funding. For political or economic interests, obviously.

With the current text of the European Media Freedom Act, every euro allocated to the media will be publicly disclosed . How? The transparency requirement of government funding of the media was extended beyond advertising – to all services, including to online platforms. In addition, any acquisition of a media outlet will have to follow a clearly defined procedure, during which the (potential) impact on editorial freedom and pluralism will be evaluated.

Finally, we will have comprehensive legislation at EU level that establishes a legally binding framework for the operation and governance of the media.

Finally, we will be able to prevent harmful practices that have taken place thus far, both by the authorities and the private market.

Finally, we will be able to do more than say merely that “we are concerned”.

Democracy does not work without a free media. The European Media Freedom Act is not, and in all likelihood will never be perfect, but it is the most decisive step we can take at the moment to ensure exactly that. Freedom of the media.

In the meantime, there are still a few hurdles to surmount before the process is over. In less than a month, the act will need to be adopted by the plenary of the European Parliament, and then the main challenge awaits: the inter-institutional negotiations on a truly final text.

Today, a total of 1785 (1592+193) amendments would have to be voted on, had no compromises been reached. But they were. 53 of them.

And these compromise amendments incorporate the vast majority of the 193 amendments  tabled by us. By me and my team.

And that is why…
… 1592 plus 193 equals 53.

Greetings from Brussels!

– Irena

Remember, my dear friends, …

… when we could follow content on, say, Facebook and Instagram in the order it was posted, rather than in the way “someone else” decided for us? Well …

Finally, we will be able to do so again! And that’s partly my ‘fault’. As of today, all major online platforms in the European Union must adhere to the rules that have quite rightly been made stricter, this being one of them.

Show me your ‘feed’ and I’ll tell you who you are. The online world is presented to us exactly as the algorithm dictates. Each of us receives a different presentation, based on our personal data that is sold to whoever is willing to pay the highest price. We are the product, and the algorithms know exactly who should be offered what. Unfortunately, they also know who is more susceptible to conspiracy theories, disinformation and deception.

With such a system it is easy to manipulate people and voters, to systematically spread conspiracy theories to sell illegal, harmful products, to shamelessly use hate speech, and even to incite violence, which, unfortunately, often results in violence in real life. This system is abused by those who exploit people’s fear, frustration and anger for their own particular interests; those who wage a culture war on the media and the ghosts of the past. This system (deliberately) undermines trust in experts and people with authority, reduces the quality of public debate and civility, and, worst of all, makes it impossible to tackle the really pressing problems affecting people.

The Digital Services Act was a necessary response to this system. It introduces obligations with respect to algorithmic transparency, indicating the origin of advertising, especially political advertising, and rectifying [AS1] misleading information, and sets clear rules for moderating content online.

I covered the report on this legislative act as rapporteur for my group, Renew Europe, in the Committee on Culture. It was therefore my task to table amendments, set the voting indications for the group and negotiate with the rapporteurs from other groups on the final text in the form of joint, compromise amendments.

This was followed by inter-institutional negotiations which finally led to the act’s adoption, making it binding for the entire European Union. What did I aim (and succeed) to achieve with my amendments to the text on advertising?

As a user seeing a particular advertisement, platforms must inform you why this particular advertisement was chosen for you. Most importantly, you should not be subject to targeted advertising by default, UNLESS you have given your prior consent. So pay attention to the changes that Meta and TikTok (and anyone else) have announced to date, and decline to be shown content based on algorithms if you don’t want that. Now it is possible!

In addition, companies will have to ensure that targeted advertising using sensitive personal data such as sexual orientation, ethnicity or political opinions is not possible. Targeted advertising to minors is prohibited.

I also thought it was important that you have the possibility to make your own decisions about the data you share and to set the algorithm parameters yourself. In other words, that you can actually choose how the ‘world is presented’ to you.

Of course, in this, too, it is important to distinguish between legal, illegal and harmful content. Legal content should not be removed, and platforms should not be held responsible for its removal. Illegal content, however, is currently divided into three types: child sexual abuse material, terrorist content and copyright. All of them are covered by specific legislation, and the Digital Services Act now provides for horizontal rules.

I was strongly opposed to the content being checked exclusively by automated systems, algorithms or artificial intelligence. That is why, throughout the text, I added (and was successful in my endeavour) that content blocking must necessarily be subject to human supervision.

Last but not least, an element that is particularly important in the context of my fight for the Slovenian language: I added that the online giants must respect the language of a Member State and employ moderators who can speak its language, in our case Slovenian. I am sure these multinationals can afford to do that.

We need to know who is behind the content we see on social networks, and we must have the power to control our own identity.


A social label attributed to someone for being different, usually unjustified: stigma.

A state of physical and mental well-being, non-impaired functioning of the body and mind: health.

Unfortunately, stigma also affects health. Especially mental health. Stigma discourages people from seeking help in time. It leads to social exclusion, which worsens an already alarming situation even further.

Due to stereotypes about mental health issues and disorders, mental health is kept hidden and isn’t talked about. However, as the definition states, health not only signifies physical, but also mental well-being. This is not something we are sufficiently aware of, and the fast-paced, crazy world of (too-) high expectations and filters is not doing us any favours in this respect either.

This is where (co)decision-makers have to step in too. As Vice-Chair of the Subcommittee on Public Health, I am advocating for two key issues:

– to ensure that all young people with mental distress or disorders receive accessible, free and timely help, which is a crucial first step in successfully tackling their difficulties;

– to ensure that both the authorities and all other stakeholders raise the level of awareness about mental health issues.

It is critical to talk about mental health and thus shatter the stigma that is still associated with it. Each of us has difficulties in our lives, we all experience and deal with them differently. What is important is that they are actively addressed.

– Irena

The process by which something that is worn out, damaged, becomes as good as new.

The definition of restoration.

There are many things on our planet that are worn out, damaged. Many of them so much so that, unfortunately, the process described above is impossible. And, sadly, the vast majority of it is down to humans. But there are still things that can be fixed. Restored. At least partially.

And one would expect – at least those of us who are aware of our responsibility to the planet – that politicians would be ‘fighting each other’ to go down in history as the greatest advocates of the environment. Fighting to show more ambition, to protect nature more.

But the opposite is happening. Self-serving politicasters and opportunists prefer to conspire against the legislative text that is the least suitable to be the subject of political infighting and, above all, of false information.

I am speaking about the Nature Restoration Law, which we voted on today. The manipulators have failed, the bill was not defeated, negotiations will continue. This is a victory, but with a bitter aftertaste.

Those of us MEPs who are genuinely concerned have shown that we care. For the environment, for climate neutrality, for the future. On the other hand, the other MEPs, too, are genuinely concerned and have shown that they care. About themselves.

I have a message for them. And a few questions.

… When speaking about the restoration of ecosystems. Land, coastal, freshwater, marine, urban ecosystems. The forest ecosystem. The agricultural ones! When speaking about restoring pollinator populations. About natural environments that have already been destroyed, damaged, exploited.

How can there still be people who claim that this legislation is “dangerous” or “unnecessary”? This is yet another classic case of politicising the matter to scare the masses. They spread fear by claiming, for example, that Article 9 of this law which aims to increase land conservation and biodiversity will drastically reduce food production, which is completely misleading.

Should we really do something for our bees and other pollinators, or should we just talk of them with pride when enjoying honey or talking to someone from abroad?

What about all other animals, plants and their diversity? Are we really not tearing up the ground beneath them – sometimes literally?

Where we have drained peatlands, have we really not caused the collapse of the ecosystem? What if we cut down a forest and don’t replace it?

Do we want more trees alongside new motorways, new high-rise buildings and shopping centres? I would dare to say that the planet is already “boiling” enough.

The renewal rates that we are talking about hover around some ten per cent, and in my opinion they are already too low, while some would prefer to halve the ambition. In fact, certain amendments adopted today have significantly weakened the text.

I repeat: it’s about RESTORATION – and only as a proportion of the total damage. Damage that humankind – we, as society, our economies, our desire for more – has inflicted on animals, plants, the environment.

And the worst thing? That it is not “only” climate change (which is reflected in long dry spells, devastating floods, hail and other unpredictable crop-destroying climatic events), biodiversity and ecosystem loss, including that of pollinators, and (excessive) pest control that pose the biggest threats to food security, fisheries, agriculture and forestry. Rather, such threats also originate from political manipulators, opportunists and hypocrites.

… Who score political points on the backs of farmers. The latter have long been the victims of insufficient legislation that would protect and preserve nature and the environment, and guarantee them greater crop stability and thus a better livelihood. I therefore also have a message for everyone in the agricultural industry. You must be aware, I am sorry to say, that the representatives of the European People’s Party and all those who opposed the proposed legislation under the pretext of ensuring sufficient agricultural land and food security, have achieved its exact opposite.

As a society, we put a value on everything. In terms of a price, profit, capital. We place a much lower value on human beings. And none whatsoever on nature.

It’s high time we ALL started to realise what is really important for life on this planet.

Gluttony … will eat us up.

– Irena

Political games are one thing, but to unjustly slander a country with baseless claims just to please an illiberal populist is truly unacceptable. I think it would be fair to the Slovenian people if you explained to us in what way and where you are “witnessing the collapse of the rule of law and the political takeover of the media in Slovenia”? That is the least you can do. Until such time, I ask you to refrain from slandering my country without a legitimate basis.

You have now read a paragraph of an email I sent to the leader of the largest political group in the European Parliament and to all its MEPs. Do you know who that is?

Someone who is blatantly ignoring the facts. Someone who is evidently, without any remorse, consolidating the populist right and serves as a mouthpiece for their absurd and manipulated theses. Someone to whom I also wrote: “I know you know very well who their ideological allies and mentors are.”

Let the political family that blindly takes on the distorted claims of the populist agitators at least present the arguments underpinning their assertions. And who is really behind them. This is the least we are owed, if they are ready to indiscriminately bad-mouth our country. It should by now be obvious to them who it is that they are backing in Slovenia. It would be preferable that they help elevate the political culture of the right wing in our country, given its current lamentable state. I know that it is not as dismal (yet) at the European level. But it is high time to reflect on whether everyone wishes to go down this road.

It doesn’t matter whether we are liberal, conservative, left, right, top, bottom or what have you, we can disagree on many things, but we should all, without exception, stand together when it comes to the most important thing: defending the rule of law, our liberal democracies, and – as far as I’m concerned, most vital of all – truthfulness. And, if truth be told, it is sad to see how the historic values of decency, respect and human dignity, which are supposed to be the fundamental values of this largest political family, are being trampled on by radical factions. Critical reflection is always in order. Double-checking the information you get from the aforementioned radical factions is even more in order.

I do not hesitate to express criticism when it is appropriate. I do not care for instructions, partisan interests, loyalty at any price. The only loyalty I care about is loyalty to the people. But, ladies and gentlemen, the European Commission’s 2023 Rule of Law Report for Slovenia simply cannot be criticised. Unless, of course, one is instructed to do so. Or is pursuing certain interests. Or there is a price attached.

Or because one is living in a parallel reality and, above all, in the past.

But… facts simply don’t lie. And this report is based purely on facts. It is the result of thorough analysis and verifiable information, which finally and rightly places Slovenia back in the company of stable democracies in Europe.

Let there be no doubt: the previous reports were also based solely on facts. The previous two, for example, expressed great concern about the accelerated attempts to dismantle the country’s fundamental institutions. Guess under whose government.

The most recent report, however, clearly highlights progress. Including in the field of media freedom, for the first time in two years. It explicitly mentions action taken to remedy the situation of the Slovenian Press Agency, and the importance of the amendments to the RTV Slovenija Act for ensuring the political independence of the public broadcasting service. It also notes progress in the areas of civil society and justice.

Of course, certain criticisms remain. Of course, unresolved issues remain. But they, too, are being resolved. And – what is more – they date further back than a year.

That’s the difference.

The difference when it comes to instructions. Interests. Loyalty. Between conservatives, radicals, liberals. Between the previous and the current government.

That. Is. The. Difference.

– Irena

Yes, I’m going to bring up the European Media Freedom Act again. But when you find out why (just read on), you’ll understand.

You all know by now that I am continually confronting multinationals operating on the Slovenian market, who are discriminating against the Slovenian language as they go. My team and I have been giving a lot of thought to what we can do. Send a letter, urge, convene meetings, explain… all well and good, but unfortunately not enough.

It is through legislation that companies are compelled to introduce the necessary changes, especially those who confidently declare “we don’t have to”. Well, sooner or later you will have to.

First, there’s the national level. The Ministry of Culture has finally submitted the envisaged legislative changes for public consultation. I intend to take part in the process within the framework of my competences. I hope for an ambitious, sharp, unambiguous amendment of the law.

And then there’s the European level. With its European Media Freedom Act. And Article 14 on the coordination among regulators. I am determined to include a provision in this legislation – which will have the form of a regulation, meaning that Member States will have to transpose it exactly as it is agreed in the negotiations – that will simply force foreign companies to comply with our law, even if they are not officially established in, say, Slovenia.

How? On the basis of this provision, a Slovenian inspector, for example, establishing that Netflix is discriminating against Slovenian, an official EU language on the EU market, will be able to make use of official mechanisms to request the inspector in the country where the company has its offices or a head office (in the specific case of Netflix in the Netherlands) to put the matter right.

I really believe that this provision will be adopted, as at this point none of the other negotiators are voicing any issues with it. Of course, the process then continues with negotiations with the Member States and the European Commission, but I am confident that we will succeed – I am confident that I will succeed, because I understand how important this is! – and that, in parallel to the Slovenian legislative amendments, we will FINALLY make progress in this respect. Give Slovenian the place it deserves.

It is our language, our right and our choice.

And that’s what I spoke about in my contribution for POP TV’s 24ur programme today.

Greetings from Brussels

– Irena