EU Council adopts law to protect whistleblowers; directive applies to both public and private sectors

On 7 October, the EU Council formally adopted new rules on whistle-blower protection, covering a range of sectors including public procurement, financial services, money laundering, product and transport safety, nuclear safety, public health, consumer and data protection. The new rules will require the creation of safe channels for reporting both within companies and to public authorities. Member states will have two years to transpose the rules into national law.

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Article
7 October 2019

Better protection of whistle-blowers: new EU-wide rules to kick in in 2021

Author: Council of the European Union

The EU is to guarantee a high level protection to whistle-blowers across a wide range of sectors including public procurement, financial services, money laundering, product and transport safety, nuclear safety, public health, consumer and data protection.

Today the Council formally adopted new rules on whistle-blowers protection. The new rules will require the creation of safe channels for reporting both within an organisation - private or public - and to public authorities. It will also provide a high level of protection to whistle-blowers against retaliation, and require national authorities to adequately inform citizens and train public officials on how to deal with whistle-blowing.

The legislation will now be formally signed and published in the Official journal. Member states will have two years to transpose the new rules into their national law...

The main elements [...] include:

  • Creation of channels of reporting within companies/administrations...
  • Hierarchy of reporting channels...
  • A large number of profiles protected by the new rules...
  • A wide scope of application...
  • Support and protection measures for whistleblowers...
  • Feedback obligations for authorities and companies...

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Article
7 October 2019

EU COUNTRIES’ CHANCE TO LEAD ON WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTION

Author: Transparency International

Today’s formal adoption of the EU Whistleblowing Directive creates a two-year window of opportunity for EU Member States to take the global lead on protecting whistleblowers as they transpose the directive into national law, Transparency International said today.

Transparency International today published analysis and recommendations to help Member States pass best-practice national laws that will effectively protect whistleblowers and support anti-corruption efforts in their country. Included are recommendations that national legislation should cover every possible whistleblowing situation and ensure that all whistleblowers are protected, including when they report on matters related to defence, security and classified information...

Whistleblowing Programme Coordinator at Transparency International, said: “The EU Directive goes commendably far [...] but it is by nature limited to breaches of EU law in some areas. Member State governments should make sure their legislation fully protects whistleblowers who report on all breaches of law...”

Transparency International also advises EU countries to strengthen the protection of whistleblowers in legal proceedings and to create national whistleblowing authorities responsible for the oversight and enforcement of whistleblowing legislation, and for collecting and publishing data on the functioning of the law....

Transparency International will monitor the transposition of the EU Whistleblowing Directive...

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Article
17 April 2018

EU to bring in law to protect whistleblowers seeking to expose corporate behaviour

Author: Jennifer Rankin, The Guardian

"EU moves to bring in whistleblower protection law", 16 April 2018

The European commission will next week propose legislation that intends to protect whistleblowers. Recent scandals have exposed the limited help available for people seeking to expose corporate behaviour in the public interest...

Proponents of an EU whistleblower law argue it could have led to earlier exposure of the VW emissions scandal...

“Where potential whistleblowers do not feel safe to come forward … this translates into underreporting and therefore missed opportunities for preventing and detecting breaches of union law which can cause serious harm to the public interest.”

The law would give whistleblowers protected status, including the right to legal aid and possible financial support. Companies would be banned from firing or demoting whistleblowers and face “dissuasive” penalties for seeking to block employees seeking to uncover wrongdoing.

EU member states would be responsible for deciding on details, such as the type of sanctions, in domestic legislation...

The draft law will be revised by EU governments and the European parliament, a process that usually takes 18-24 months. Although the law will only come into force until after the UK leaves the EU, the British government may find it forms part of core EU standards... 

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