Today, the European Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI) voted in favour of strengthening the European Commission’s proposals for an EU-wide Whistleblower protection directive. The JURI committee has improved the proposals by expanding the freedom of the individual to choose how to report, and enlarged the scope of the Directive to include protection for people reporting on violations of workers’ rights or gender equality in the workplace. The European Parliament has also added specific protection for people choosing to report anonymously, and has removed terminology regarding sanctions for “malicious” or “abusive” reporting, which could have discouraged potential whistleblowers from coming forward.
Parliament will enter into a “trialogue” with the European Council and the Commission as soon as the Member States have finally found a position on this important issue. The Greens/EFA Group has long been in favour of an EU-wide directive to protect whistleblowers. The Greens/EFA Group urges the institutions to treat these negotiations with the highest priority so that this dossier can be agreed in time before the European elections.
The Christian-Democrats were the only group to table amendments to weaken the protection of whistleblowers. They wanted to exclude shareholders, managers and suppliers as well as knowledge from the application process from the protection rules (amendments 258, 259, 163, 264). Christian-Democrats only wanted to protect those who act “in good faith” (AM 251), the majority wants to evaluate the benefit for the common good. Social democrats, Greens, liberals, GUE/NGL and Italian Five-Stars, however, had requested a strengthening of protection and were thus in the majority.
Sven Giegold, European Parliament rapporteur for transparency, accountability and integrity in the EU institutions, comments on the vote:
“The decision of the Committee on Legal Affairs is a major step forward for the protection of whistleblowers. Whistleblowers need a right to speak and protection from retaliation. Whistleblowers who want to protect the common good need maximum protection by the society. For too long, exposing deficiencies has been a personal risk for whistleblowers. Whistleblowers need ways to make the abuses public also outside of their workplace. Fear of retaliation must not be an obstacle for whistleblowers. With today’s vote, the European Parliament is sending a clear message that individuals need the greatest possible protection to be able to express themselves.
It is incomprehensible that the German government hampers the negotiations in the Council and expresses concerns. Following Luxleaks, the Volkswagen scandal and Panama Papers, the coalition partners should clearly support whistleblowers in Germany.
Whistleblowers are drivers of positive change. They have uncovered tax evasion, data protection violations and war crimes. Whistleblowers have helped to change policy, but they still face unexpected obstacles. This proposal is a good basis to protect those who want to disclose information in the public interest”.
The rapporteur’s compromises in today’s vote:
Amendments by the political groups for today’s vote, AMs 66-303: