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Calls for Greater Protection for Whistle-Blowers

Members of the European Parliament have called for proper protection and support for whistle-blowers who have acted in the public interest.

They highlight that whistle-blower protection is variable across the EU and what protection is in place is often inadequate.

MEPs have therefore urged the European Commission to propose new EU-wide rules before the end of the year that will better protect whistle-blowers who reveal serious breaches in the public interest, such as corruption, miscarriages of justice, tax avoidance, lack of protection for food safety or the environment and attacks on social, human or workers’ rights.

They also argue that all EU countries should introduce:

  • reporting mechanisms, to facilitate internal whistle-blowing and allow whistle-blowers to report to NGOs or the press, including the possibility of anonymous reporting,
  • protection against retaliation, including sanctions against those attempting to prevent whistle-blowers from speaking out and measures to discourage the retaliatory actions,
  • supporting measures, such as legal and financial aid, psychological support and compensation for damage suffered by whistle-blowers in the event of civil proceedings, and
  • national independent bodies, responsible for reports, verifying their credibility and guiding whistle-blowers and an EU level authority, to facilitate coordination in cross-border cases.

"Luxleaks, Panama Papers, Monsanto Papers... Thanks to whistle-blowers, who raise collective awareness about serious encroachments on the public interest, our democratic rules have been improved,” commented Rapporteur Virginie Rozière (S&D, FR). “Despite their irreplaceable support for press freedom and democratic debate, they still fall prey to severe reprisals.”

In the UK, some protection for whistle-blowers already exists under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, which protects workers from unfair treatment or dismissal because they have disclosed a wrong-doing in the public interest. 

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