EU countries must do more to combat corruption by better protecting whistleblowers

Issued by Transparency International Secretariat

Most European Union countries fail to legally protect whistleblowers enough from retaliation in the workplace, shutting out an important actor in the fight against corruption, according to a new report from Transparency International.   

Whistleblowers play a prominent role exposing and preventing corruption, yet only four EU countries – Luxembourg, Romania, Slovenia and the United Kingdom – have advanced whistleblower protection laws in place, according to the report Whistleblowing in Europe. Only in these four countries would a government or company employee who discloses serious wrongdoing be adequately protected by law from being fired or harassed.

Of the remaining 23 EU countries in the study, 16 partially protect employees who report wrongdoing, while seven have either no or very inadequate laws in place.

“Whistleblowers are very important to the fight against corruption. They take on risks that many, if not most, people are unwilling to assume and they expose crimes that few are interested in or brave enough to report,” said Anne Koch, Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia at Transparency International.

Transparency International urges all EU countries to enact and strongly enforce comprehensive whistleblower laws based on prevailing international standards, including those developed by Transparency International. Governments and companies should support whistleblowers when valid disclosures are brought to light.

Without strong legal protection and safe processes to report wrongdoing, government and corporate employees throughout Europe run the risk of being fired, demoted or harassed if they come forward to expose corruption and other crimes.

In the absence of strong whistleblower laws, major corruption scandals and disasters in Europe that have cost lives and money theoretically could have been prevented or lessened if employees felt they had the necessary protections to come forward.

Many laws are vaguely written, and contain loopholes and exceptions. Advanced disclosure channels for whistleblowers are missing from various laws, as well as a comprehensive definition of whistleblowing, a guarantee of confidentiality, and protection from defamation suits.

Whistleblowing in Europe is an element of Transparency International’s global effort to advocate for stronger whistleblower rights and promote the positive contributions of whistleblowers. Transparency International has led or joined efforts to pass, improve, propose or monitor whistleblower laws in dozens of countries worldwide.

Whistleblowing in Europe can be viewed online here.

Read our International Principles for Whistleblower Legislation

Read our web feature Whistleblowing in Europe: The time has come to tell a new story

For daily global anti-corruption updates follow us on Twitter at or on Facebook at

Note to editors

Whistleblowing in Europe is Transparency International’s second study on whistleblower protection in Europe. The first study, Alternative to Silence, was released in 2009 and is available here. The new project was supported by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Home Affairs, Prevention of and Fight against Crime Programme.

For any press enquiries please contact

Chris Sanders
E. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
T. +49 30 343820 666


Support Transparency International

#18IACC: Call for workshop proposals now open!

The 18th edition of the International Anti-Corruption Conference to take place in Copenhagen from 22-24 October 2018 is thrilled to announce that the call for workshop proposals is now open. Help us shape the #18IACC agenda! Anyone interested in the fight against corruption is welcome to submit a proposal.

The impact of land corruption on women: insights from Africa

As part of International Women’s Day, Transparency International is launching the Women, Land and Corruption resource book. This is a collection of unique articles and research findings that describe and analyse the prevalence of land corruption in Africa – and its disproportionate effect on women – presented together with innovative responses from organisations across the continent.

Passport dealers of Europe: navigating the Golden Visa market

Coast or mountains? Real estate or business investment? Want your money back in five years? If you're rich, there are an array of options for European ‘Golden Visas’ at your fingertips, each granting EU residence or citizenship rights.

How the G20 can make state-owned enterprises champions of integrity

For the first time in its presidency of the G20, Argentina is hosting country representatives from across the globe to address the best ways of curtailing corruption and promoting integrity in state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

Europe and Central Asia: More civil engagement needed (Part II)

As follow-up to the regional analysis of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, additional examples from Albania, Kosovo and Georgia highlight the need for more progress in anti-corruption efforts in these countries and across the region.

Lutte contre la corruption en Afrique: Du bon et du moins bon

La publication de la dernière édition de l’Indice de perception de la corruption (IPC) offre un bon point de repère pour situer les efforts de lutte contre la corruption que l’Union africaine (UA) poursuivra tout au long de 2018

No hay cambios en las percepciones pese a los avances en América

En los últimos años, América Latina y el Caribe lograron adelantos significativos en la lucha contra la corrupción. En muchos países de la región existen ahora leyes y mecanismos para contrarrestar este fenómeno, las investigaciones legales están avanzando y los movimientos ciudadanos anticorrupción han incrementado. Sin embargo, de acuerdo con el Índice de Percepción de la Corrupción (IPC) 2017, la región continúa con bajos puntajes.

A redefining moment for Africa

The newly released Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) provides a good baseline for the African Union (AU) anti-corruption efforts in 2018. This year’s theme for the AU is “Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation.” As the AU rolls out its plan, this is an important moment for Africa to take stock of the current situation.

Social Media

Follow us on Social Media

Would you like to know more?

Sign up to stay informed about corruption news and our work around the world