Improving the protection of whistleblowers

The Legal Affairs Committee has proposed that Council of Europe member States, which are also members of the EU, promptly transpose into their national legislation the European Parliament's directive – adopted on 19 April 2019 – aimed at “guaranteeing a high level of protection” to whistleblowers. Council of Europe member States, which are not members of the EU, should also draw on this directive with a view to passing new laws in this field, the committee added.

The report by Sylvain Waserman (France, ALDE), adopted by the committee, points out that this European directive provides in particular for a broad definition of the group of individuals protected, clear reporting procedures and obligations for employers, a ban on retaliation against whistleblowers, criminal and civil immunity for acts undertaken for the acquisition of the reported information, remedies with a reversal of the burden of proof, and financial penalties against those who try to prevent whistleblowing.

The committee proposed a set of measures to supplement the European directive, such as allowing NGOs to ‘blow the whistle’ on illegal practices, as well as setting up an independent authority in each country to help whistleblowers, while forming a European network,

“Without whistleblowers, many of the challenges to our democracies, including corruption and money laundering, the mass fraudulent use of personal data, serious environmental harm or threats to public health, will not be solved. The effectiveness of their protection against all forms of retaliation constitute a genuine democracy indicator,” the parliamentarians concluded.