Today, the European Parliament backed a proposal to protect whistle-blowers with a large majority of 399 in favour to 101 against. The second such proposal this year to call the European Commission to action could count on wide support from across the political spectrum. Dennis de Jong, ITCO Co-President, urges the European Commission to tackle this issue: “In my report in February, we called on the Commission to provide a comprehensive action plan. So far we have seen little action from the Commission, so once again, the European Parliament calls for the protection of whistle-blowers. Commissioner Timmermans, take this opportunity to accommodate a European House of whistle-blowers, at the European Ombudsman. They have expertise at research and it would prevent an additional separate and costly EU agency!”
Whistle-blowers and investigative journalists
Elly Schlein, ITCO Co-President expanded: “Today’s vote in the EP is a crucial step to put pressure on the Commission to finally put forward a horizontal legislative proposal to set minimum standards of protection of whistle-blowers across Europe. Our parliamentary intergroup has been calling for this important piece of legislation repeatedly, for full protection against retaliation and the reversal of burden of proof. After the brutal killing of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, it has become even clearer that people who shed light on wrongdoings cannot be left alone and unprotected. The time to act is now!”
Whistle-blowers and investigative journalists play a vital role in our societies. As the Lux Leaks and Panama Papers show, they can help expose corruption and the dodgy dealings of multinational companies. However, they are the ones that face repercussions – risking their jobs, liberty, and sometimes even their lives. That fact was made real with the murder of the investigative journalist and blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta last week.
Time for the Commission to act
Benedek Jávor, ITCO Bureau member added: “Today the EP adopted an ambitious report on the protection of whistle-blowers, which calls on the European Commission to present legislation by the end of this year. It is high time that the Commission steps up its game and presents an ambitious proposal ensuring a high level of protection to all: Citizens and democracy cannot wait any longer.”
The European Parliament in its resolution calls for a European legislation to better protect whistle-blowers and for the creation of an independent body that can advise potential whistle-blowers on their legal situation. The EU Parliament also has made clear that it is on the side of those exposing wrongful acts such as corruption or unlawful use of public funds. It is now up to the European Commission to do the same.