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Agreement reached on EU-wide protection for whistleblowers

Agreement reached on EU-wide protection for whistleblowers

The European Parliament and the Member States have reached a provisional agreement on new rules that will guarantee a high level of protection for whistleblowers who report breaches of EU law.

  • Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
  • March 15, 2019
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These new rules, setting EU-wide standards of protection for whistleblowers, were first proposed by the European Commission in April 2018.

"We should protect whistleblowers from being punished, sacked, demoted or sued in court for doing the right thing for society. These new, EU-wide whistleblowers' protection rules do exactly that and will make sure they can report in a safe way on breaches of EU law in many areas," said First Vice-President Frans Timmermans. 

"This will help tackle fraud, corruption, corporate tax avoidance and damage to people's health and the environment. We encourage Member States to put in place comprehensive frameworks for whistleblower protection based on the same principles," he added. 

The Panama Papers and Cambridge Analytica revelations pointed to how whistleblowers help uncover unlawful activities that damage both the public interest and the EU's general welfare, the Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality explained. 

"We must support and protect the courageous people who bring illegal activities to light. I am happy that we have reached a balanced system that encourages employers to solve problems internally but also allows whistleblowers to turn to public authorities without fear of retaliation," Vera Jourova said. 

The new rules cover a wide reach of areas of EU law, including anti-money laundering and corporate taxation, data protection, protection of the Union's financial interests, food and product safety and environmental protection and nuclear safety. Moreover, Member States are free to extend these rules to other areas.

The Commission said it encourages them to establish comprehensive frameworks for whistleblower protection based on the same principles. 

It added that this provisional agreement now has to be formally approved by both the European Parliament and the Council. 

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