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, 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.

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

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

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

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

You can watch MEP Joveva’s speech here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can watch MEP Joveva’s speech here.

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

You can watch the full speech by clicking here.

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.