The S&D Group today welcomed the proposal from the European Commission on the protection of whistle-blowers in the EU.
S&D Group leader Udo Bullmann said:
“The S&D Group have been calling for years for EU-wide legislation to protect whistle-blowers. From LuxLeaks to Cambridge Analytica, whistle-blowers have helped expose some of the biggest scandals in recent memory. They play an essential role in our democracies, shining a light on dodgy practices and helping us crack down on unethical behaviour. However, far too often those exposing the malpractice face the repercussions, while those they expose get off scot free. We are happy to see that finally the European Commission has heeded our call and recognised the need to do something about this.”
S&D Group MEP and author of the Parliament’s report on protection of whistle-blowers, Virginie Rozière, said:
“Last year, the European Parliament backed the creation of strong protections for whistle-blowers. We are glad to see that large parts of our report have been taken on board in the proposal from the Commission. We are pleased that these proposals will cover a large scope of EU policy areas, from environmental and consumer protection to personal data and the defending the EU’s financial interests. However, a big issue remains that breaches of employment law are not part of the scope. The strong protections for whistle-blowers against any form of retaliation are a positive step forward, as is the creation of legal and financial assistance to support whistle-blowers.
“The Group will also fight hard for strong protections for investigative journalists. As we have seen from the latest Facebook scandal to the Panama Papers, investigative journalists work hand-in-hand with whistle-blowers to expose corruption and it is vital that they are also protected. As we have tragically seen in both Malta and Slovakia in recent months, far too often they pay a heavy price for their investigative work.”
S&D Group Spokesperson for legal affairs, Sylvia-Yvonne Kaufmann, added:
“We now need to fight to ensure that these new laws are as watertight as possible. The current proposal covers people disclosing information about breaches of EU law. We need to work hard to make sure not to leave any grey zones so that potential whistle-blowers feel safe and protected to report wrongdoing. Clearly not all citizens exposing dodgy dealings will know precisely which EU law is being violated.
“The ultimate purpose of these laws is to ensure that systems are in place for people to expose wrongdoing when they see it without fear of negative repercussions. Private companies and public bodies will be obliged to establish internal procedures under which whistle-blowers could first report unethical behaviour. However, there are plenty of examples when this is not a possibility and public exposure is both necessary and beneficial. We will fight hard to ensure that those going public are strongly protected in the final text.”