Brussels: Committee on Petitions – Petition no. 1056/2021 of Daniel Bodnar on the protection of whistleblowers and journalists reporting forestry crimes in Romania (in the presence of the petitioner via remote connection) – Renew Vlad Gheorghe MEP (08.11.2021).

Thank you for accepting my request for an urgency procedure on the petition on violence against journalists, activists and whistleblowers denouncing illegal logging.

The interviewed citizen, Daniel Bodnar, refers to the situation in Romania, but the problem is an European one. At Union level, we still lack a tool to combat this phenomenon, which leaves us poorer every day. In Romania alone, 3 hectares of forest are cut per hour. According to the European Commission’s country report, the damage to the budget is 6 BILLION euros per year. And the effects on biodiversity, the environment and our health are immeasurable.

With the pandemic, violence against environmental activists has increased all over the world – EU Member States and Romania in particular are no exception. Most of the attacks are related to illegal deforestation and illegal landfills. Both are highly profitable criminal activities, involving cross-border organized networks. Criminals often go unpunished, as EUROPOL warns.

The Council of Europe’s report records physical attacks, online threats, illegal surveillance and even legal action to intimidate activists and stop their fight against environmental crime.

Dear colleagues, it is clear that in these cases local and national authorities do NOT manage to protect the citizens, the press or the environment. We can no longer afford to close our eyes and let our forests be destroyed. Illegal logging costs us a lot now, and it will cost our children even more.

We know who is responsible: organized crime groups, companies that want big profits at any cost, politicians and corrupt administrations. They are the aggressors, and environmental activists, journalists, whistleblowers like honest rangers are the victims.

Aggressors deserve and must be punished, while victims deserve and must be protected. We need to get involved by all possible means – from fact finding missions to a resolution on this issue.

We must end the impunity of environmental offenders. I ask once more for your support on the establishment of a European Green Prosecutor.

I also call on the European Commission to follow up on the Parliament’s call for an European regulation on corporate responsibility taking these issues into account.

It is our duty to save the forests of Romania and Europe. Not only European voters now, but especially our children will judge our actions for their future.

Thank you.

We demand the protection of activists, journalists and honest foresters

We demand the protection of activists, journalists and honest foresters

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