Bjorn Kuipers

The European Commission has proposed a directive for the protection of whistle-blowers. Following the Lux Leaks and Dieselgate scandals, where whistle-blowers played a big role in addressing problems within financial consultancy and the car industry respectively, the Commission was under pressure to provide a guideline for legislation. For Elly Schlein, co-chair of ITCO Intergroup, the European Commission proposal directive to protect whistle-blowers is a good starting point: “It’s a victory of our ITCO Intergroup. Together with Transparency International and Riparte il Futuro we called several times for a legislative framework to protect whistle-blowers who risk their life to report corruption both in private and public administration. Now the European Parliament will have to work to improve the proposal in order to put into place strong measures.”

wide scope of sectors covered

ITCO Bureau member and MEP of the Greens/EFA group, Benedek Jávor is relieved: “Whistle-blowers have been the heroes behind many recent scandals, unearthing major breaches of public trust and driving legislative change. They deserve our support, not criminalisation.” The proposal for the protection of whistle-blowers covers a wide scope of sectors, and public as well as private entities. Furthermore, not only the formal unlawful activities are considered falling into the scope, but also acting against the object or spirit of the rules can be reported upon. Large companies and public institutions are required to set up their own internal reporting mechanisms, and whistle-blowers must be protected from retaliation.

Commission selective?

The whistle-blower directive serves as a guideline for Member States’ legislation. However, it appears that the European Commission is very good in telling member states what to do, but curiously, their own institutions do not seem included in being covered by the legislation. Could we end up with a case of the EU instructing the member states: “Do as I say, not do as I do”?

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