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EU lawmakers propose new whistleblower protection law

MEPs agree on draft legislation on EU-wide protection and support for whistleblowers

MEPs have agreed to introduce new legal mechanisms to protect whistleblowers and encourage reporting of breaches of EU law.

On Tuesday, the Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament endorsed a draft legislation, providing for EU-wide protection for whistleblowers who report violations of the EU legislation, which should ensure that they subsequently will not face intimidation or harassment.

MEPs approved draft legislation to guarantee that whistle-blowers in the EU can report breaches of EU law in the area of tax evasion, corruption, environmental protection and public health and safety, without fear of retaliation or intimidation.

The same protection measures will also apply to those assisting the whistleblowers, such as journalists, the European Parliament said in a press release.

EU member states will be requested to establish proper reporting channels for whistleblowers and set up a feedback channel for them, delivering a follow-up to the reporting persons within two months.

To make sure that potential whistleblowers feel safe and are aware of reporting channels member states would be requested to ensure that private and public sectors put in place adequate internal and external reporting channels.

The draft text explicitly prohibits reprisals and member states would have to take necessary safeguards against retaliation towards whistleblowers. MEPs urged member states to provide information and advice free of charge as well as legal, financial and psychological support to whistleblowers.

The text was approved with 22 votes in favour, one against. Once adopted, it will go to the European Parliament plenary where discussions on it becoming law would commence.

Reacting to the vote, Maltese MEP Francis Zammit Dimech said “It is a must to protect persons who report breaches of law including corruption in public procurement and money-laundering. This is in the public interest as money which can be invested in more health services and housing is currently being sieved to the very few.”

A 2017 study carried out for the Commission estimated the loss of potential benefits due to a lack of whistle-blower protection, in public procurement alone, to be in the range of €5.8 to €9.6 billion each year for the EU as a whole.

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