Countries’ Laws Across EU Don’t Meet International Standards For Protection

European countries’ whistleblower laws provide mixed results when rated against international standards, a new report series shows.

The report series scores whistleblower protections across Europe against nine international and European standards. It also looks at how well the laws are being applied in practice, including in courtrooms.

The 28 EU countries’ total score rated 173 out of 756 possible points – or just 23%, according to Blueprint for Free Speech’s report series.

‘EU countries need to do better than 23% for whistleblowers,’ according to Dr Suelette Dreyfus, who contributed to the report series and is Executive Director of Blueprint, which is one of the six partners in the Change of Direction project.  Other findings include:

There is still considerable work to be done, with seven countries scoring a zero when rated against these standards and eight more earning a rating below 25%.
When it comes to protecting whistleblowers from all types of retaliation, 13 countries – 46% of EU member states – fail this standard (Countries with zero score - Standard 3). This is important because whistleblowers won’t step forward if they think they will be demoted or fired for revealing corruption and serious wrongdoing. Yet, nearly half of the EU countries failed this standard entirely.
75% of EU countries failed to meet the standard of creating of penalties for retaliation or other mistreatment against whistleblowers (Countries with zero score- Standard 7).
43% of EU-member countries also failed the standard of providing a range of disclosure channels. This standard reflects countries’ commitment to freedom of expression. (Countries with zero score - Standard 2).

‘But it’s not all gloomy – the research shows there has been some progress in protecting whistleblowers,’ she said. Ten EU-countries have adopted specific laws or provisions to protect whistleblowers over the past 5 years. And Ireland, the top performer in the report ratings with a score of 67%, has shown that strong new laws can be translated into practice, with some successes in the courtroom.

‘Ireland shows us it can be done,’ she said.  The value of the analysis in the report series is that is shows exactly where improvements need to be made – in which countries and which areas.

‘That’s going to be helpful for civil society, journalists and policy-makers to know where to focus their efforts,’ she added.

The two reports in the series are ‘Gaps in the System: Whistleblowers Laws in the EU’ , which evaluates specific whistleblower protection laws across all EU member countries against nine recognised European and international standards, and ‘Safe or Sorry: Whistleblower Protection Laws in Europe Deliver Mixed Results’  the first independent public report by an NGO assessing how well whistleblowers laws across Europe are working in practice by examining cases and available data.