European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans announced today the Commission’s proposal for a Directive to protect whistleblowers.

The proposal sets out to align the existing Union sectorial rules on whistleblower protection in the wake of data breaches that have revealed corruption on a huge scale.

Responding to the announcement European Green Party co-chairs Reinhard Bütikofer and Monica Frassoni said:

“This is a first step towards building a common policy across Europe to protect whistleblowers and a big victory for campaigners who have been fighting for a common set of rules across Europe.

“Ideally, we should not need to count on whistleblowers to keep people in power in check, but it is only thanks to revelations instigated by whistleblowers such as the Panama Papers and Luxleaks that financial and ethical wrong-doing on a massive scale has come to light.

“Instead of being punished, they should be praised for having a social conscience in a world where it is often so much easier to sit back and do nothing.

“The nature of the breaches often put the whistleblower in great personal danger. Currently, they do not enjoy the same rights as investigative journalists, so there must be a framework put in place to protect them.

“In its current form, there is only a patchwork of legislation and several Member States have no regulation whatsoever. It is clear from recent revelations that corruption extends far beyond national borders, so we need legislation that reflects this cross-border dimension.

“We believe this Directive sends out a clear message that the EU is prepared to tackle elite special interest groups and deliver greater transparency across Europe. People are fed up of seeing the rich and well-connected milking the system for their own personal gain, whilst law-abiding citizens foot the bill. We should be thankful to the whistleblowers who have helped make ‘confidential’ information become available to the public and sparked political change.

“We call on political leaders across Europe to lay the groundwork to apply these rules as soon as possible to ensure whistleblowers get the protection they need.”