European Parliament Approves New Directive on the Protection of Whistleblowers

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Friday, May 3, 2019
Michael Plachta

On April 16, 2019, the European Parliament adopted a legislative resolution by which it approved a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the protection of whistleblowers. The new rules, adopted with 591 votes in favor, 29 against, and 33 abstentions, and already in agreement with EU ministers, lay down new, EU-wide standards to protect whistleblowers revealing breaches of EU law in a wide range of areas including public procurement, financial services, money laundering, product and transport safety, nuclear safety, public health, consumer, and data protection. Currently, only ten EU countries (France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, Netherlands, Slovakia, Sweden, and the UK) have a comprehensive law protecting whistleblowers. In the remaining EU countries, the protection granted is partial: it covers only public servants or only specific sectors (e.g. financial services) or only specific types of wrongdoings (e.g. corruption). Recent scandals, from LuxLeaks to Panama Papers to Global Laundromat, uncovered by whistleblowers illustrate how insufficient protection in one country not only negatively impacts the functioning of EU policies there, but can also spill over into other countries and into the EU as a whole.