You had supported our petition for the freedom of whistleblower Hervé Falciani at https://you.wemove.eu/campaigns/Whistleblower-Falciani-must-not-be-extradited-to-Switzerland It worked! The Spanish court had refused to extradite the former HSBC Bank employee in September 2018. The case against Falciani in Spain has thus been closed. He can now enjoy his freedom at least outside Switzerland. However, the case points to a general problem: according to the current legal situation, heroic whistleblowers end up in the dock far too quickly instead of the lawbreakers responsible for the problems.
For the general protection of whistleblowers, however, there is now also good news: Last week an agreement on European whistleblower protection was reached in trialogue negotiations between the European Parliament, Commission and the Council of member states. This is a breakthrough for the protection of whistleblowers. Three years of Green campaigning in the European Parliament came to a happy end!
European whistleblowers such as Hervé Falciani or Howard Wilkenson, who uncovered a billion-dollar money laundering at his employer Danske Bank, have been subject for far too long to obstruction and retaliation. Falciani also had to fear for his freedom in front of European courts. Wilkenson says he was legally prevented by Danske Bank from reporting the full extent of suspicious financial transactions to regulators. The LuxLeaks‘ whistleblower, Antoine Deltour, was facing jail time. Even though he was finally not imprisoned, his legal costs in 2017 alone amounted to 60,000 euros. The new EU directive guarantees legal protection for cases such as these. Whistleblowers will in future receive the protection they deserve in Europe. Someone like Falciani would not have to fear for his freedom in front of European courts if he reported violations of the law to the authorities. Someone like Wilkenson would get guaranteed legal protection in the future if he turned directly to the supervisory authorities. All the more so when he has to realise that nothing is being done about his internal references. Antoine Deltour could have contacted the regulators directly. After a few months for the supervisors to react, or if there are signs of a danger of blackout or a role for the supervisors in a breach of the law, the legal protection also applies to passing on information to the press.
Courageous action for the common good must enjoy the best possible legal protection. Many whistleblowers want to defend the law, so they should be protected by the law. It benefits the climate, health and justice to protect whistleblowers from reprisals. Last Friday, the Council finally confirmed the agreement.
Until a few days earlier, the German federal government and the French government had insisted that guaranteed protection for whistleblowers only applies if they first report internally in their company or agency. Such internal reporting channels can, however, become a danger for whistleblowers. Parliament won the deal: Whistleblowers can also turn directly to supervisors and enjoy guaranteed legal protection.
Almost 3 years ago we Greens in the European Parliament had put pressure on EU-wide protection standards with our own draft whistleblower protection law. Almost a year ago, the Commission reacted with its official proposal. Since the Council had finally agreed on a position at the end of January, the European Parliament, Commission and Council had struggled to reach agreement in the trialogue.
After the green light by Council, the agreement on whistleblower protection must now be confirmed by the European Parliament. The directive adopted must then be transposed into national law by the member states. We will carefully watch to make sure that there are no new restrictions on the effective protection of whistleblowers. More needs to be done on the EU laws on tax justice. The European Parliament and civil society are continuing to put pressure on, for example, public country-specific reporting of multinationals about their profits and taxes to finally become EU law. For us Greens, tax justice remains one of our most important concerns, especially in the election campaign that is about to begin before the European elections on 23 to 26 May. We would be grateful if we could use your vote and renewed strength to exert pressure in this direction.
With European green greetings!
More information on the agreement on whistleblower protection can be found here: https://sven-giegold.de/trialogue-agreement-breakthrough-for-whistleblower-protection/