European Commission proposal on whistle-blower protection

The European Commission has prepared a draft directive on the protection of whistleblowers in the EU.

 

The purpose of this Directive is to create secure channels for reporting maladministration, both within an organisation and to public authorities. The proposal aims to protect EU-wide reporting of breaches of EU law in areas such as food and feed safety, animal health and welfare.

 

 

The necessary safeguards should include the following:

 

  • Clear reporting channels inside and outside the organization to maintain confidentiality
  • A tripartite reporting system consisting of:
    • internal signalling channels
    • reporting to the responsible authorities – when internal channels are not functioning or cannot reasonably be functioning (e.g. when the use of internal channels could jeopardise the effectiveness of investigative measures by the relevant authorities)
    • public/media reports – if no appropriate action is taken after the report has been made through other channels or if there is a direct or obvious threat to the public interest or the risk of irreparable damage
  • Reporting obligations for authorities and companies’ which must respond to and follow up reports of maladministration within 3 months
  • Avoidance of retaliation and effective protection: Any retaliation is prohibited and should be punished. When a whistleblower is retaliated, he should have access to free counselling and appropriate remedies (e.g. measures against harassment at the workplace or to avoid dismissal). The burden of proof is reversed in such cases so that the person or organisation concerned must prove that they are not retaliating against the whistleblower. Whistle-blowers are also protected in court proceedings, for example by being exempted from liability for disclosed information.

 

Further information can be found here.

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