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07.09.2017 09:53 Age: 256 days
Category: News

ECON Backs-Up Initiative for Better Horizontal Protection of Whistle-blowers in the EU

Whistle-blowing“ is one of the most important tools to fight singular or structural breaches of law in EU Member States.[1] According to the European Commission, whistle-blowing is a form of reporting or disclosing acts or omissions that ‘represent a threat or harm to the public interest (such as fraud, corruption, tax evasion, threats to public health and safety, to food safety and to the environment, mismanagement of public funds’ etc.).

In general, the issue with whistle-blowing is twofold. First, there is no single set of rules in EU Member States as to the protection (rights) of whistle-blowers against public or private retaliation. Moreover, there are states where this kind of rights lack entirely. For these reasons, the Commission’s proposals are aimed at ensuring an equal and enhanced standard of protection in EU Member States. 

Second, when a scandal reaches the newspapers following a whistle-blower report, – the whistle-blower may actually face serious difficulties, including financial repercussions. In general, whistle-blowers are not in breach of law, but there have been cases in which the whistle-blower has had to pay damages for slightly erroneous reporting. This is the reason for which the Commission launched a public consultation this year in view of a legislative initiative on horizontal and further sectorial EU action on whistle blower protection on 29 May 2017. In the European Parliament, the Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) issued an initiative report on this subject, with the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) voting in favour.

Sven Giegold, MEP of the European Free Alliance and member of the ECON committee commented that ‘[t]his law is long overdue, considering that many of the tax and financial scandals would not have been revealed without whistleblowers‘.

The vote approved a legislative initiative with a double purpose: first, to secure a set of rights for whistleblowers; second, to establish a compensation fund for those whistle-blowers who, although acting in good faith, suffered financially as a consequence of their actions. 


[1] According to the Commission’s Inception Impact Assessment report on whistleblowing, ‘[t]he importance of whistleblowers for detecting fraud and corruption is confirmed by available global data’.


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