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Proposal to strengthen whistleblower protection across the EU


So far, there have been no EU-wide standards regarding protection for persons that report breaches of EU law (so called whistleblowers), and only a few EU Member States provide national legislation on the matter. However, on 23 April 2018, the European Commission adopted a proposal for an EU directive on protection of persons reporting on breaches of Union law. The proposed directive can be found here.

The proposal offers a higher level of protection for individuals who report breaches in good faith for the common good, but also provides protective measures to prevent malicious and false reports. The new rules would establish safe channels for reporting both within an organization and, if needed, directly to public authorities. The aim is to protect whistleblowers against various countermeasures, such as dismissal or demotion. National authorities would be required to inform EU citizens about the new rules, and train authorities so that they know how to deal with whistleblowers.

According to the proposal, companies with more than 50 employees or an annual turnover of at least 10 million euros must introduce internal channels and procedures for processing reports of breaches. The same obligation concerns all state administrations, regional administrations and municipalities with over 10,000 inhabitants. The procedures would have to include the following:

1. Clear reporting channels both within and outside of the organization;

2. A three-tier reporting system: internal reporting channels, reporting breaches to authorities (if internal reporting channels do not function properly), and public/media reporting (for example if no appropriate action is taken after reporting through other channels);

3. Authorities and companies are compelled to follow up on whistleblower reports within three months; and

4. All forms of retaliation are forbidden and should be sanctioned.

The next step is to process the proposal in relevant committees of the European Parliament, and the objective is to adopt the final text before the EU Parliament elections in 2019.

For further information, please contact:
Anna Liinamaa
Lotta Uusitalo

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