At tonight’s trilogue meeting of the European Parliament, EU Commission and Council of Member States on whistleblower protection, a deal is considered likely. The crucial point is whether whistleblowers are forced to report internally in order to be guaranteed legal protection in the event of subsequent external reports to supervisors, or later to press or publicly. In this regard, a compromise close to the position of the European Parliament is in sight. The European Parliament wants to encourage whistleblowers to report internally, but also guarantee them protection if they turn directly to regulators for danger of collusion or fear of reprisals. End of last week, the German minister of justice, Katarina Barley gave up on her absolute insistence on the three-tier system. Following the German and before Italian change of mind, in a public round of justice ministers meeting on Friday, there was unanimous support for this compromise line of the Romanian presidency. The Council working group on the issue has been sitting together since this morning. Between 8:00 to 8:30 pm the parliamentary delegation will meet alone. From 8:30 pm till midnight the representatives of the three institutions will meet in the trilogue meeting. For practical reasons, the same meeting will deal with both, whistleblower protection and corporate law.
MEP Sven Giegold, financial and economic policy spokesperson of the Greens/EFA group commented:
“The pressure on the blocking ministers of justice from Germany, France and few other member states has paid off. The last-minute commitment of ministers to effective whistleblower protection makes an agreement tonight likely. Whistleblowers had to wait long enough for the change of mind of blocking ministers. Whistleblowers deserve a clear signal today that Europe will protect their courageous actions. Whistleblowers must enjoy full European legal protection, even if they turn directly to authorities for danger of collusion or fear of reprisals. Effective protection is needed for whistleblowers in danger. Only strong protection for whistleblowers will strengthen the work of the media which often relies on whistleblowers.”
The Council has so far insisted on whistleblowers being obliged to report first to their own company or authority (first stage), before they can turn to an external supervisory authority (second stage) and only then to the press or the public (third stage). Whistleblowers would have to wait 3 to 6 months each for feedback in the first and second stage before they could rely on European legal protection for public reporting after one year (three-stage reporting system). This procedure is unreasonable for many whistleblowers. Parliament wants to guarantee legal certainty for whistleblowers, regardless of whether they raise an internal alarm or apply directly to a supervisory authority (two-stage reporting system). Already after 2 to 4 months Whistleblowers could sound the alarm publicly with guaranteed legal protection.