There is a lack of general protection for whistleblowers who report corruption, and no obligation to examine their reports in several EU countries, Transparency International found in a recent report. This is a reminder that a robust legal framework is crucial to protect whistleblowers from retaliation.
Transparency International's latest report scrutinises the whistleblower protection laws adopted in 20 EU member states. Twenty-five out of 27 EU countries have adopted such laws to meet the EU requirements set by the 2019 Whistleblower Protection Directive. The assessment evaluates their compliance with the EU minimum standards and best practices in key areas, to understand how well they protect whistleblowers.
The findings are concerning: 19 of the 20 reviewed countries do not comply with EU requirements in at least one of four key areas. These include the rights of whistleblowers to report information directly to the authorities, access remedies and full compensation for damage suffered, obtain free and easily accessible advice, and ensure penalties for those violating whistleblower protection.
Furthermore, out of the 20 countries reviewed, none follow best practices in at least one of these areas: what whistleblowers can report, anonymous reporting, the implementation of internal whistleblowing systems, and the provision of legal or financial support to whistleblowers.
To ensure robust protection for whistleblowers and facilitate their reporting of corruption and other misconduct, Transparency International urges the EU member states to:
- revise their legislation to align with the EU minimum requirements contained in the Whistleblower Protection Directive
- seize the opportunity to review areas where their laws do not conform to best practices
- ensure that the legislative process is prompt and transparent, involving all relevant stakeholders, including civil society.
Marie Terracol, Whistleblower Protection Lead at Transparency International said:
"Whistleblowers regularly save lives, prevent environmental damages and help recover millions of euros of much-needed public funds that would have been lost to corruption. It is essential that policymakers safeguard and empower whistleblowers to come forward and speak up in the public interest."
Notes to editors
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