Malta Independent

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.”

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