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Position paper

Building on the EU directive for whistleblower protection: analysis and recommendations

Whistle blowing International law Employee protection Employment Law European Union

Protecting whistleblowers from unfair treatment, including retaliation, discrimination or disadvantage, can embolden people to report wrongdoing, which increases the likelihood that wrongdoing is prevented, uncovered and penalised. Whistleblower protection is therefore a key means of enhancing effective enforcement of legislation.

On 7 October 2019, the European Union adopted a Directive on the “Protection of persons reporting on breaches of Union law” (Whistleblower Protection Directive). The EU Member States have two years to implement the Directive into national law. Until now, EU countries have had different levels of whistleblower protection in place, with a few countries, such as Ireland, having relatively strong laws and other countries, such as Cyprus, having practically none. Transparency International has long called for comprehensive EU-wide whistleblower protection and the Directive provides a strong foundation for such protection across the EU. It sets minimum standards of protection for whistleblowers reporting breaches of EU law in defined areas.

EU Member States have until October 2021 to transpose the Directive. This is an opportunity for all EU countries to bring their national legal framework on whisteblower protection in line with international standards and best practice. Transparency International urges EU countries not only to uphold, but also to reinforce, the undertakings in the Directive, to ensure that their national legislation provides robust protection to all whistleblowers reporting breaches of law – whether EU or national law.

To support effective implementation of the Directive, Transparency International has prepared this analysis, which provides recommendations aimed at closing loopholes and strengthening whistleblower protection in the transposition process. Through our national chapters, Transparency International will also provide context-specific recommendations at national level.

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