Legal issues must not derail whistleblower protection law
MEPs and activists reacted with dismay, at today’s Greens and S&D ‘Protecting EU Whistleblowers: A Race Against Time’ conference, to the suggestion that the opinion of the Council’s legal services, on the whistleblowers protection file, could delay or even derail the proposed legislation.
Whistleblower protection before European elections?
The suggestion that the recent opinion of the Council’s legal services, on the whistleblowers protection file, could delay or even derail the proposed legislation, was rejected by MEPs and activists at today's whistleblower protection event, held at the European Parliament. Speakers expressed their fears that a final agreement may not reached before the upcoming European elections.
It was revealed in December that the legal service of the Council in an opinion on the legal basis of the whistleblowers protection directive, which argued that the directive must be split into several different legal acts.
Green MEP Pascal Durand addressing attendees said, ‘When this one [Council] legal opinion is pitted against all the other legal opinions, it would make a lot of sense to go with the majority of legal opinions and not focus on this one’, aberrant legal opinion.
European needs and deserves a good whistleblower protection regime
Martin Jefflén, President of Eurocadres, agreed: ‘It is strange that there have been several legal opinions, none of which brought up the issues raised by Council’s legal services, at this late stage. Our members and the public would rightly be extremely disappointed if this became a block to Europe having the good whistleblower protection regime it needs and deserves’.
If the whistleblower protection legislation is not finalised, European citizens will question the reliability of EU institutions,
According to MEP Virginie Rozière, the Rapporteur who guided the whistleblower protection dossier through the European Parliament, ‘the assessment of legal opinions will come down to political decisions’. She believes that if the whistleblower protection legislation is not finalised, ‘European citizens will question the reliability of EU institutions, especially as they have seen so much illegal activities and wrong-doing uncovered by whistleblowers in recent years’.
Durand went even further, he claimed that a failure to pass whistleblower protection legislation, including protection when reporting on tax evasion, would undermine the whole European project. He said, ‘the EU might as well just shut up shop, if we cannot get this done. This would be a massive failure on the part of the EU. A horizontal single piece of legislation represents the best of European values, it would be real shame to not have this success going into the European elections’.
Failure to pass whistleblower protection legislation, would undermine the whole European project
It would look strange, continued the MEP, if ‘the EU can pass legislation on trade secrets but not do so on whistleblowers protection’, when EU citizens have clearly expressed their support for such measures’. He pleaded with Member States to assist parliamentarians in achieving a robust directive which encourages whistleblowing and creates a Europe-wide system to protect whistleblowers.
Romanian Presidency convinced an acceptable compromise can be reached
However, Carmen Necula, Permanent representation of Romania to the EU and Vice President of FREMP, the working party of the Council which is responsible for the issue, said she is ‘confident that we will find a compromise proposal, in Council, which is acceptable to everyone’, when addressing the conference. She stated that the ‘whistleblowers protection file, is a priority for the Romanian Presidency’.
We will find a compromise proposal, in Council, which is acceptable to everyone.
Necula confirmed that the Council will be tackling the file tomorrow, 10th of January, in terms of seeing if there is a way forward, which Member States can agree on. The file will then go to Coreper on the 16th of January where further efforts will be made to reach political consensus. Member States are also expected to set out their red lines at this Coreper meeting.
Today trade unions and NGOs will deliver two petitions gathering over 280,000 signatures supporting the European Parliament’s demands for an improved directive.
In an open letter to the European Council, Commission and Parliament seven well-known European whistleblowers speak out for changing the directive and removing barriers for safe reporting.
The EU Whistleblowing Directive is an idea whose time has come. New whistleblower protection laws in Ireland, France and the Netherlands showed consensus was building among EU Member States on the need to protect and enable workers to speak up about wrongdoing in the workplace.
The directive must be changed to that whistleblowers can report not only a special internal whistleblowing channel, but also to managers or law enforcement.
In an open letter 81 signing organisations urge the EU Council to adopt the Parliament’s position on reporting channels. The whistleblower protection directive is currently in trilogue. The signatories express serious concerns about the reporting channels regime in the Council and Commission positions in these negotiations.
A few weeks left to improve the whistleblower protection directive. Make your voice heard and sign the new petition for strong whistleblower protection!
The Romanian Presidency will play a key role is securing a robust whistleblower protection Directive, argues R. Nicolae, of Syene. He believes that Romania has a number of strengths which will support it leading the negotiations, as the whistleblower protection file moves from the Council to trilogue.
According to the Legal Counsel of the Danske Bank Whistleblower, S. Kohn, the Howard Wilkinson case clearly demonstrates that the EU Whistleblower Directive urgently needs to be revised to protect the right to report directly to law enforcement agencies and regulatory authorities.
The Duty Speech Loophole: how the EU Whistleblower Directive could backfire against its own objectives
Tom Devine, Legal Director of GAP explains why a series of technical contradictions within the EU draft directive need to be resolved, or the legislation could backfire and actually work against whistleblowers.