On Tuesday, 12 September 2023, MEP Irena Joveva spoke during the European Parliament plenary session in Strasbourg on combating the normalisation of far-right and far-left discourses including antisemitism. According to her, “normalisation leads to acceptance”, and the discourse of the opportunists, who create fear and mistrust among people for their own gain, must not be accepted or normalised: “We must not let them dictate the pace of our actions.”

Joveva began her speech by saying that she is one of the many who receive hateful comments on a daily basis, stressing that she wasn’t talking about critical comments, but vicious and dangerous ones. She is convinced that we must all take on the issue of the normalisation of radical discourse, as it is on the rise.

“Normalisation leads to acceptance. Acceptance in turn influences the perception of reality.”

She regretted that this is also the case in the European Parliament. She referred, among other things, to the European People’s Party’s deals with the far right to obstruct much-needed legislation, but above all, she said, she was referring to the “dangerous populist demagogy that is dictating the pace”.

“We ought not to normalise and accept this. They are opportunists. They create fear and mistrust among people for their own gain. Through manipulation. They use, for instance, someone’s origin to advance nationalism under the guise of patriotism.”

With that in mind, she ended her address by urging everyone in the political centre, to which she herself belongs, to reject such discourse upfront and “not to yield to the desires of extremists to influence our policies or actions”.

“Come on. Let’s set standards,” Joveva concluded.

You can watch the MEP’s speech here.

On Wednesday, 14 June 2023, MEP Irena Joveva discussed the implementation and delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the plenary session in Strasbourg. She stressed that the time for action is now, as 2030 is just around the corner. The challenges are deepening and we seem to have learned nothing, she added.

“Ever since the signing of the Sustainable Development Agenda, the EU has been committed to leading the way in achieving the goals. We want to achieve them by 2030, don’t we?”

As Joveva continued, the Green Deal adopted during this term of the European Parliament, marked the first steps in the right direction, but then we were hit by a pandemic. After stepping together to resolve the health situation, a war broke out on our continent, which was followed by the energy and financial crises. She expressed her concern that we are not prepared for all the problems that continue to arise.

“Meanwhile, inequalities are growing and environmental, health, financial, food and social challenges are deepening. We should have learnt that such all-encompassing challenges cannot be solved with minor, fragmented sectoral solutions. It seems that we have not.”

Joveva also highlighted the fact that 2030 is just around the corner and still no strategy and financial plan for the Agenda’s implementation have been presented, despite the European Parliament having called on the European Commission to prepare one already last year.

“Let’s make sure that the current appeal proves more successful because it’s time for action. For the good of the people, the planet, prosperity and, last but not least, peace and freedom.”


This year’s report is a follow-up to last year’s report, which aimed to strengthen the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in the areas of governance, finance and international diplomacy. It contains strong calls for a long-awaited high-level strategy for the implementation of SDGs, a strengthened civil society, improved monitoring and mobilisation of resources. The report should be seen as an effort by the European Union ahead of its participation in the annual High-Level Political Forum organised by the European Commission this July, which will focus on accelerating the implementation of the goals, post-COVID-19 recovery and the overall implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

You can watch the speech in Slovenian in full here.

Foto: Genevieve ENGEL

On Wednesday, 10 May 2023, MEP Irena Joveva discussed an update of the EU’s anti-corruption legislative framework at the plenary session in Strasbourg. She underscored that those elected to the European Parliament are there to act for the common good of all people, not to make lives easier for “individuals with deep pockets”, thereby seeking their own personal gain.

The MEP began her speech by listing the most prominent corruption scandals that have shocked citizens, Member States and the European and global public alike. Among them, she mentioned the most recent affair, the so-called Qatargate, while also recalling the “LuxLeaks”, “Galvin report”, “cash-for-influence” and the most notorious “Cresson” affair, which even led to the resignation of the entire European Commission at the time.

These are just a few of the high-profile corruption scandals at European level, and there are many more at Member State level, noted Joveva, adding that this is an extremely big problem, which not only undermines democratic values, but time and again erodes the already fragile trust in politics and politicians:

“We are here to work for the common good of all people, not to make lives easier for certain companies, countries and individuals with deep pockets, and in so doing seeking our own personal gain. It is true that some anti-corruption safeguards and mechanisms are in place, but they are more than clearly insufficient.”

In Joveva’s view, a directive on combating corruption is long overdue, but with the Commission’s current proposal, it is at least finally on the table:

“The proposal finally introduces a single supranational legislation and envisages penalties for corruption crimes. Those who seek to profit will thus finally end up alongside other offenders – behind bars.”


During her State of the Union address in September 2022, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen pledged that the Commission would come forward with proposals to tackle corruption. The latest revelations of alleged corrupt practices in the European Parliament have added fuel to the fire, and the Commission subsequently unveiled a proposal for a directive on combating corruption on 3 May 2023.

The European Parliament, as co-legislator, is involved in the examination of proposals to ensure optimal implementation of the rules, political oversight and accountability of those elected. MEPs have taken stock of the European Commission’s anti-corruption proposals in the plenary. The European Union aims to enhance existing frameworks, proactively tackle corruption at the policy-making level, support Member States in these efforts and leverage the annual rule of law report. In addition, the proposal foresees new rules on criminal offences, harmonised penalties across the Member States, and a dedicated regime to target corruption worldwide.

In addition to the latest Qatargate affair, other high-profile scandals in the European Union include the Cresson affair, the “cash-for-influence” affair, LuxLeaks and the Galvin report.

You can watch MEP Joveva’s speech in Slovenian here.

On Wednesday, 19 April 2023, MEP Irena Joveva spoke at the plenary session in Strasbourg on the EU Global Health Strategy. Stressing the importance of solidarity and of helping everyone in need, particularly in health care, she added that in implementing EU strategies, institutions should not forget to resolve our issues.

Joveva’s opening remarks were critical of the fact that it took thirteen years and a pandemic to happen for the Commission to present a new global health strategy.

“But well, at least we got it. It is well-designed and, if implemented successfully, it will position the Union as a leading geopolitical power in the field of health.”

Joveva strongly supported this objective, but asked those present in the Chamber, and in particular the European Commission, whether the European Union is actually, and not only in theory, ready for a Health Union, which, in plain language, means transferring health competences from the Member States to the European level.

​​“Without this, it is difficult to set strategies for building effective health systems, while within the Union these are under immense pressure and in some places even falling apart. I believe in solidarity and I support helping everyone in need, including – or especially – in health care. But in pursuing our strategies, we must not forget to resolve our issues.”

You can watch MEP Joveva’s speech in Slovenian here.

On the European Union’s Global Health Strategy:

At the end of November 2022, the European Commission adopted a new EU Global Health Strategy to improve global health security and deliver better health for all in the fast-changing world. The strategy will strengthen the EU’s leadership and responsibility for tackling key global challenges and inequalities in the field of health care and health.

The main interrelated priorities in dealing with global health challenges set out in the strategy include: delivering better health and well-being of people across the life course, strengthening health systems, and combating health threats, including pandemics.

The strategy seeks to regain the ground lost to reach the universal health-related targets in the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

It is also one of the essential pillars of EU foreign policy and central to EU strategic autonomy. It aims to enable better preparedness and faster response to health threats, while promoting sustainable partnerships of equals, drawing on the Global Gateway.

You can read the full EU Global Health Strategy here.

On Wednesday, 19 April 2023, during the Strasbourg plenary session, MEP Irena Joveva contributed to the topical debate Keeping people healthy, water drinkable and soil liveable: getting rid of forever pollutants and strengthening EU chemical legislation now. She said that there has been enough delay in the overhaul of the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Regulation. Should an immediate proposal remain outstanding, the European Commission’s empty promises will remain just that – empty, she stressed.

Joveva began by summarising the essence of the plenary debate: the fact that basic goods such as clean water, safe food, unpolluted soil and clean air should be a given. The Union is right to pay a great deal of attention to these areas, but at the same time it shies away from regulating chemicals, where, as Joveva pointed out, there have been no serious amendments since 2006, when the still applicable Regulation on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (commonly known as REACH) was adopted.

”The (European) Commission has been seemingly promising its revision for three years now. It appears that the proposal will only be presented in the final quarter of this year, just a few months before the elections. Which means that these empty promises will remain just that. Empty.”

As Joveva elaborated, in the meantime, humans and other organisms will continue to be exposed to harmful chemicals, the negative effects of which will last for decades.

But given that all measures that have been or are being taken in the EU to protect the environment and health succeed or fail depending on closely interconnected areas that remain unregulated, Joveva concluded her speech with determination:

”Enough stalling. We need a revised REACH proposal now. While we still have time to adopt it.”

You can watch MEP Joveva’s speech here (in slovenian).


Chemicals are part of our everyday lives and are present in the products we use and in the high-tech materials needed for a circular and climate-neutral economy. The 2006 Regulation on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (commonly known as REACH) is the cornerstone of the European Union’s chemicals legislation. This Regulation aims to ensure a high level of protection of human health and the environment. A targeted revision of the Regulation is currently planned for the fourth quarter of 2023.

On 14 October 2020, the European Commission adopted the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability. The Strategy is part of the European Union’s zero pollution ambition – a key commitment of the European Green Deal. Through the strategy, the European Commission aims to better protect citizens and the environment from harmful chemicals and to stimulate innovation by promoting the use of safer and more sustainable chemicals. However, given that this is only a strategy, it is not legally binding on Member States.

On Wednesday, 29 March 2023, MEP Irena Joveva addressed the European Parliament during its plenary session in Brussels on the current developments at the national broadcaster RTV Slovenija. She said that its current management are not taking responsibility and refuse to admit that they are a disgrace to and unworthy of their positions: “They are only capable of making journalistic work impossible, of mobbing employees and of destroying the public service.”

The MEP began by saying that every decent person takes responsibility for his or her actions, even more so, if they are unlawful.

“And what are the management of RTV Slovenija doing? The Director General Andrej Grah Whatmough has been unlawfully appointed – as has been proven in court! He does not intend to resign. The former director of TV Slovenia, Natalija Gorščak, has been unlawfully removed from office – as has been proven in court! Her successor, Uroš Urbanija, does not intend to resign.”

Joveva recalled that there have already been numerous strikes by RTV Slovenija employees. In her opinion, the next one, which has been announced for 4 April 2023, is justified, considering that the situation at the public service broadcaster has not improved. Rather the contrary is the case, given that the management – as mentioned above – does not want to assume responsibility.

“Because they don’t want to end this agony, because they don’t want to admit that they are a disgrace to and unworthy of their positions. They are only capable of making journalistic work impossible, of mobbing employees and of destroying the public service.”

To conclude, she summarised her thoughts by borrowing the words of Val202 radio station journalist Nataša Štefe, who said that they do not need compassion, but rather that everything be done in accordance with the law and standards.

You can watch MEP Joveva’s speech here.


The Programme Council of Radiotelevizija Slovenia appointed Andrej Grah Whatmough as Director General of RTV Slovenija at its meeting of 25 January 2021, as the term of office of the then Director Igor Kadunc expired in April of that year. Applications for the post were submitted by Andrej Grah Whatmough, Igor Kadunc and Nataša Gorčak, the then Director of TV Slovenia. On 17 March 2022, following an initiative by Grah Whatmough, the Programme Council, in a new composition, reappointed Grah Whatmough as Director General, whereby the new vacancy notice no longer required from the applicants three years of managerial experience.

Kadunc challenged the appointment of Grah Whatmough, arguing that the managerial experience criterion had not been taken into account in the procedure. The Court of First Instance dismissed Kadunc’s complaint, following which Kadunc appealed to the Higher Court. The latter ruled that the decision of the Programme Council of January 2021 was unlawful and should be repealed, and that the appointment of Grah Whatmough was therefore unlawful.

On 20 August 2021, the then Director General of RTV, Andrej Grah Whatmough, dismissed Natalia Gorščak from her post as Director of TV Slovenija. A panel of the Ljubljana Higher Labour and Social Court ruled that the dismissal in August 2021 was unlawful, as had previously been found by the Court of First Instance, against which the RTV management appealed.

On Wednesday, 15 March 2023, MEP Irena Joveva spoke at the Strasbourg plenary session in the debate on cross-border adoptions of children from third countries. She pointed out that the price of the lack of a single legislative framework or mechanism for cross-border adoptions will be paid by the children, which none of us should wish for: “Enough with the excuses about who is competent for the matter and who is not. Let’s take responsibility, all of us, and let’s act.”

Children are our future. I know it sounds like a cliché, but it’s as simple as that”, began Joveva, stressing that at the same time, as the most vulnerable part of society, “these children are at the mercy of our decisions to take measures to ensure their safety”. In her view appropriate conditions must be created for cross-border adoptions, as otherwise we leave the door open for illegality, the violation of numerous human rights and serious crimes that have devastating consequences in the lives of the victims.

In her address, Joveva focused in particular on the lack of a single legislative framework or mechanism which would serve to prevent potential human trafficking under the guise of cross-border adoptions. She pointed out that there have certainly been many such cases, which unfortunately have gone unnoticed:

“Meanwhile, for years the (European) Commission has been passing on the issue of the lack of regulation to the Member States. Enough with the excuses about who is competent for the matter and who is not. Let’s take responsibility, all of us, and let’s act. Or else … it won’t be us who pays the price. It will be our children. Our future. Does this still sound like a cliché? It’s as simple as that.”

You can watch MEP Joveva’s speech here.


All Member States have national provisions governing adoption, but legal procedures vary considerably across the EU, as substantive family law is a national competence. The European Parliament has been trying to regulate this family law topic with cross-border implications since 2009, when it adopted a Resolution on international adoption in the European Union, which called for consideration to be given to coordinating strategies at European level and facilitating the mutual recognition of the documents necessary for adoption.

In 2017, the European Parliament adopted a resolution with recommendations to the Commission on cross-border aspects of adoptions. At the time, the Directorate for Impact Assessment and European Added Value (EAVA) estimated that, in addition to the social, health and fundamental rights implications for individuals, the cost of the lack of EU rules on automatic recognition of adoption decisions amounted to around €1.65 million per year. Legislation at EU level would reduce administrative and legal costs and better protect the interests of the child and the fundamental rights of adoptive parents.


On Wednesday, 15 March 2023, MEP Irena Joveva addressed the plenary session in Strasbourg on the topical debate More Europe, more jobs. The MEP highlighted that new jobs will need to be matched with new skills, for which additional and effective education is key.

Joveva said that she advocates a faster development of the economy which will be even more competitive, and the creation of new professions that will be empowered by proper education. Given that all these aspects are closely intertwined, proper education and training is key, since without it, the Union will not be up to the task and the challenges ahead.

The MEP also referred to this year’s European Year of Skills, which follows last year’s European Year of Youth. In her view, the need for additional and effective training for individuals in order to develop the much needed skills required by the new professions must be taken into account when formulating economic strategies and creating new jobs.

”Through targeted economic development strategies, the Union can encourage businesses to continue to develop, while at the same time calling on them to take into account the need to upskill and reskill their workforce. This is crucial for our future.”

You can watch MEP Joveva’s speech here.


“More Europe, more jobs – we are building the competitive economy of tomorrow for the benefit of all” was one of the topical debates during the March European Parliament plenary session. Topical debates can be requested by a political group under Rule 162 of the European Parliament’s Rules of Procedure. This topic was proposed by the Renew Europe political group and is particularly relevant in the light of the series of crises and challenges that the European Union has faced and is still facing. The debate aimed to highlight the importance of securing jobs in Europe, the need to reskill part of the workforce and the value of lifelong learning.

On Tuesday, 14 February 2023, MEP Irena Joveva spoke at the Strasbourg plenary session on the need for an independent EU ethics body. “I think it is now clear to everyone that there is no other way”, she said, stressing that without integrity, transparency, accountability and zero tolerance of corruption, there will be no trust in the work of MEPs.

She said that, while certain rules already exist, the different codes of conduct that the European institutions have put in place make standards uneven, investigative powers insufficient, and sanctions deficient and often unconvincing.

”It is true that in the end, it all depends on the integrity of every individual, but it is nevertheless right that we establish a European ethics body, with unified, clear rules of conduct within all institutions. And I hope these will be the strictest rules possible.”

She went on to point out that a majority in the European Parliament had called for the creation of the body two years ago, but unfortunately to no avail. At the same time, she expressed her hope that, especially given all the recent corruption scandals, the European Commission will finally follow through on its commitment made on that occasion and act on the European Parliament’s renewed request.

”I think it’s now clear to everyone that there is no other way. It certainly is to those of us who have no problem with rules and ethics.”


On 15 December 2022, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on suspected corruption by Qatar and the wider need for transparency and accountability in the European institutions. On 16 September 2021, MEPs had already called on the Commission to come forward with a proposal to improve transparency and integrity in decision-making at the EU level. In today’s debate with the Council of the EU and the European Commission, MEPs reiterated their call for the establishment of an independent EU ethics body.

Its purpose would be to ensure that public decisions are taken for the common good and help regain citizens’ trust in the EU institutions. It would be set up by an interinstitutional agreement between the Parliament and the Commission and would be open to all EU institutions, agencies and bodies with powers of investigation or advice, depending on the matter under discussion. Before her election, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen promised to set up such a body and entrusted the task to Commission Vice-President Vera Jourova.

On Wednesday, 15 February 2023, during a plenary session in Strasbourg, MEP Irena Joveva discussed the erosion of the rule of law in Greece in relation to the wiretapping scandal and media freedom. She stressed that those who blackmail and spy on others must be exposed and stopped before anyone else dies. She was referring to the extreme cases of murders of journalists, and focused primarily on what is happening in Greece.

The MEP began her intervention by saying that, unfortunately, threats, attempts at surveillance, silencing and subjugation are a constant feature of journalism, and have even intensified in recent years with the rise of new surveillance and tracking technologies.

“There are many methods, but we need to look at them holistically. This is happening in Europe, too. It is not ‘just’ threats, ‘just’ attempts, ‘just’ surveillance. It’s also evinced in the murders that we have been seeing.”

Joveva recalled the murder of Greek investigative journalist Giorgos Karaivaz, adding that two years on, the investigation is not even over. The journalist investigated the links between the police, politicians and organised crime in Greece, for which he paid with his life. The MEP also mentioned that in a separate scandal, the use of spyware (Pegasus) had been uncovered, which was conducted directly from the office of the Greek prime minister, and which was used to spy both on the opposition and journalists.


The European public was shocked by the so-called Greek Watergate, a wiretapping scandal in which the Greek secret services tapped the phones of several Greek politicians, businessmen and journalists. Giorgos Karaivaz, a seasoned journalist who covered Greek crime and the police, was shot and killed in broad daylight outside his home on 9 April 2021 by two men on a motorbike. After the murder, the Greek police said that the “professional” style of the hit pointed to the involvement of organised crime groups, which had carried out a number of targeted killings in recent years and were known to have been investigated by Karaivaz.

The latest victims of the wiretapping scandal include Greek MEP Giorgos Kyrtsos (Renew Europe) and investigative journalist Tasos Teloglou.

In the World Press Freedom Index report, issued by Reporters Without Borders, ranking the countries of the world in terms of press freedom, Greece dropped from 70th place in 2021 to 108th in 2022, which is the poorest showing among all EU Member States and which calls into question the rule of law in Greece.