On 17 April, the European Parliament adopted new rules to protect whistleblowers.
The rules are designed to encourage the reporting of breaches of EU law by offering to whistleblowers EU-wide protection from dismissal, demotion and other forms of retaliation in areas including public procurement, financial services, money laundering, product and transport safety, nuclear safety, public health, consumer and data protection. Those assisting whistleblowers, such as facilitators, colleagues and relatives will also be protected.
Under the rules, whistleblowers will be provided with safe channels through which they will be able to disclose information both internally (to the legal entity concerned) and externally (including to competent national authorities and relevant EU institutions). In situations where no appropriate action is taken after the whistleblowers’ first report, or if there is a believed imminent danger to the public interest, individuals can report the breach publicly and will be guaranteed full protection.
In addition, member states must provide whistleblowers with comprehensive and independent access to information and free advice on available procedures and remedies, including legal aid during proceedings. Financial and psychological support may also be given to whistleblowers during legal proceedings.
According to Social-Democrat rapporteur Virginie Rozière, “Recent scandals such as LuxLeaks, Panama Papers and Football leaks have helped to shine a light on the great precariousness that whistle-blowers suffer today. On the eve of European elections, Parliament has come together to send a strong signal that it has heard the concerns of its citizens, and pushed for robust rules guaranteeing their safety and that of those persons who choose to speak out”
The rules now need to be approved by EU Ministers. Member states will then have two years to comply with the rules. Currently only France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Sweden and the UK are providing comprehensive legal protection for whistleblowers.
See the full text of the rules here.