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As EU Whistleblowing Directive December deadline approaches – just 9 countries make progress

Protect along with delegates from the EU Commission, national authorities and civil society organisations attended the Whistleblowing International Network (WIN) and Transparency International EU hosted webinar on the EU Whistleblowing Directive.

In 2019, the European Union adopted a ground-breaking Directive to ensure comprehensive and coherent protection of whistleblowers across Europe.

The 27 EU Member States implementing the Directive have until 17 December 2021 to adopt it standards into their national legal frameworks including:

  • introducing legal provisions which enable whistleblowers to seek compensation for whistleblowing retaliation,
  • establishing obligations on organisations to introduce reporting channels
  • imposing effective penalties against retaliation to protect those who speak up to stop harm to the public interest

Delegates debated current issues and discussed  the Transparency International EU & WIN’s report on Member States’ progression. Three key areas of concern were debated: first, only 9 of the 27 EU Member States have made any progress with transposition of the Directive, despite the deadline being only 9 months away.

Second, some countries are considering only applying the protection afforded in the Directive to breaches of EU law, but not to breaches of domestic law. This would result in both whistleblowers and relevant authorities having to decide in each instance whether a concern was a breach of EU or domestic law to determine which processes should apply – delegates unanimously condemned this approach as an administrative nightmare.

And third, and perhaps the most worrying, is that some countries are using the EU Directive to regress on existing laws, despite the EU Directive having a “non-regression clause”. For instance, current legislation in Romania allows whistleblowers to chose how to escalate their concern (they can raise their concern externally if they reasonably fear retaliation from their employer). Romania’s draft Bill plans to require whistleblowers to go to their employer first. This is a huge issue in Romania, where retaliation against whistleblowers is still rife.

You can read more in WIN’s report on Member States’ progression and have a look at Transparency International’s EU Whistleblowing meter for more information.

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