Those disclosing information acquired in a work-related context, on illegal or harmful activities, will be better protected under new EU rules.
The new rules lay down EU-wide standards to protect whistleblowers revealing breaches of EU law in a wide range of areas including public procurement, financial services, money laundering, public health, consumer and data protection.
To ensure potential whistleblowers remain safe and that the information disclosed remains confidential, the new rules allow them to disclose information either internally to the legal entity concerned or directly to competent national authorities, as well as to relevant EU institutions, bodies, offices and agencies.
In cases where no appropriate action was taken in response to the whistleblower’s initial report, or if they believe there is an imminent danger to the public interest or risk of retaliation, the reporting person will still be protected if they choose to disclose information publicly.
The law explicitly prohibits reprisals and introduces safeguards to prevent the whistleblower from being suspended, demoted and intimidated or facing other forms of retaliation. Those assisting whistleblowers, such as facilitators, colleagues, relatives are also protected.
Member states must ensure whistleblowers have access to comprehensive and independent information and advice on available procedures and remedies free of charge, as well as legal aid during proceedings. During legal proceedings, those reporting may also receive financial and psychological support.
The law now needs to be approved by EU ministers. Member states will then have two years to comply with the rules.