On the 16th April 2019 the European Parliament approved new rules on the disclosure of information regarding illegal, fraudulent or harmful activities acquired in a work-related context.
The draft directive recognizes that persons who work for a public or private organisation or are in contact with it in the context of their work-related activities are often the first to know about threats or harm to the public interest which arise in this context. By ‘blowing the whistle’ these persons play a key role in exposing and preventing breaches of the law that are harmful to the public interest. It is important that these persons do not suffer retaliation after disclosing such information.
Whistleblower protection is a necessary component of any enforcement machinery, especially in sensitive areas such as public procurement, financial services, money laundering, product and transport safety, nuclear safety, public health, consumer protection and data protection. It is also widely believed that the reporting of breaches within the given sectors is likely to minimize wrongdoing and prevent against distortions of competition within those sectors.
The European Parliament is also of the view that the law must absolutely and explicitly prohibit reprisals such as suspension from employment, demotion, intimidation or other forms of retaliation. To ensure a high level of protection, all persons assisting a whistleblower are equally protected.
A novel law for many European member states, the draft directive shall allow persons to disclose information either internally to the legal entity concerned or externally to competent national authorities, as well as to relevant EU institutions, bodies, offices and agencies.
The draft directive, however, must still be approved by EU ministers before any transposition into national law.
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