The EU Commission has not kept its promise to whistleblowers

EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker promised to pass a bill which would ensure the Europe-wide protection of whistleblowers, campaigners from «A Change of Direction»​, a network of NGOs and research institutions raising awareness on the importance of whistleblowers in the fight against corruption, are looking forward to progress on this.

After a hearing on May 30, 2017 investigating the revelations of the Panama Papers, the ground-breaking international tax-avoidance scandal exposed by a whistleblower, Juncker said, “The Commission is working on a proposal to better protect whistleblowers and you will hear more about this in the months to come.”

“Despite Juncker’s promises in 2017 and support for whistleblower protection from courts, national governments, and the EU Parliament, 8 months on we do not have a proposal on whistleblower protection from the Commission and people who risk their livelihoods to report wrongdoing and uncover corruption are still without protection across Europe,” said Giulio Carini, a campaigner with “A Change of Direction.”

While the Commission fails to act, the EU Parliament has repeatedly called for legal protections for whistleblowers, mostly recently on October 2017 with a non-binding resolution on the need for legitimate measures to protect whistleblowers acting in the public interest. A petition calling for legislation on EU-wide whistleblower protection spearheaded by Eurocadres, Transparency International, and over 50 organisations has been signed by over 81,000 people.

On January 11, 2018, Antoine Deltour who uncovered the Luxleaks scandal involving tax avoidance schemes was officially recognized as a whistleblower and his conviction was quashed by the Luxembourg Court of Cassation. More and more European Member States such as Italy and France have now adopted new laws to protect whistleblowers in their respective countries.

Despite all these developments, the European Union still lacks legislation that secures basic and comprehensive protections for all whistleblowers in Europe.

"A recent report by the EU Commission shows that an effective whistleblower protection program for all of Europe would make it possible to recover from 5.8 to 9.6 billion Euros per year in the public procurement sector," said Veronika Nad of Blueprint for Free Speech, an NGO dedicated to improving freedom of expression, and member organization of “A Change of Direction.” "There is really no excuse left for the Commission, even their own study shows that they need to urgently act.”