EU whistleblower protection boosted by MEPs

EU whistleblower protection
© iStock/MarianVejcik

The EU Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) has approved EU whistleblower protection measures to shore up the rights of whistleblowers across the union.

MEPs on the committee approved draft EU whistleblower protection legislation yesterday which will guarantee the rights of whistleblowers and journalists to report breaches of EU law in the fields of tax evasion, corruption, public health and safety and environmental protection without retaliation.

Whistleblowers are currently fully protected by law in only 10 Member States: France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Sweden and the UK. The European Parliament and Council of Europe have both issued recommendations for a comprehensive, union-wide system of EU whistleblower protection. A study carried out for the European Commission in 2017 showed public procurement across the EU loses between €5.8 and €9.6 billion per year in potential benefits due to a widespread lack of protection for whistleblowers.

The EU whistleblower protection measures will request Member States to ensure appropriate internal and external reporting channels within the public and private sectors; and to implement the necessary safeguards to prevent professional and personal retribution from being exacted against citizens who report wrongdoing. Member States are encouraged to make information and advice for whistleblowers freely available and provide the necessary legal, financial and psychological support.

Virginie Roziere, rapporteur for the committee, said of the EU whistleblower protection legislation: “Following recent big scandals, such as Luxleaks [a 2014 financial scandal which saw two whistleblowers given suspended sentences and fines], and the great difficulties faced by whistleblowers in Europe, this Directive protects individuals speaking out for the public good much better than before. Parliament has introduced significant improvements to the Commission’s text. The creation of a single and easily identifiable public authority in each Member State, which will provide free of charge confidential advice to those who intend to blow or have blown the whistle, together with legal and financial assistance, are major steps to make sure that we efficiently protect free speech”.

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