Protection of whistleblowers: new EU-wide rules approved
Those disclosing information acquired in a work-related context on illegal or harmful activities will be better protected under new EU rules approved yesterday.
The new rules, adopted overwhelmingly with 591 votes in favour, 29 against and 33 abstentions, and already agreed with EU ministers, lay down new, EU-wide standards to protect whistleblowers revealing breaches of EU law in a wide range of areas including public procurement, financial services, money laundering, product and transport safety, nuclear safety, public health, consumer and data protection.
To ensure potential whistleblowers remain safe and that the information disclosed remains confidential, the new rules allow them to disclose information either internally to the legal entity concerned or directly to competent national authorities, as well as to relevant EU institutions, bodies, offices and agencies.
In cases where no appropriate action is taken in response to the whistleblower’s initial report, or if they believe there is an imminent danger to the public interest or a risk of retaliation, the reporting person will still be protected if they choose to disclose information publicly.
The law explicitly prohibits reprisals and introduces safeguards to prevent the whistleblower from being suspended, demoted and intimidated or facing other forms of retaliation. Those assisting whistleblowers, such as facilitators, colleagues and relatives are also protected.
Member states must ensure whistleblowers have access to comprehensive and independent information and advice on available procedures and remedies free-ofcharge, as well as legal aid during proceedings. During legal proceedings, those reporting may also receive financial and psychological support.
Rapporteur Virginie Rozière said: “Recent scandals such as LuxLeaks, Panama Papers and Football leaks have helped to shine a light on the great precariousness that whistleblowers 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.”