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FIBGAR / Articles  / EU Whistleblowing Directive: new report from the European Commission

EU Whistleblowing Directive: new report from the European Commission

On 3 July 2024, the Commission adopted a report assessing the implementation and application of Directive (EU) 2019/1937 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2019 on the protection of persons who report breaches of Union law.

Whistleblowers are important actors in national and European efforts to detect, investigate and tackle corruption: their exposés have brought to light irregularities in public and private organisations. By exercising their freedom of expression, protected by Article 11 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, they contribute to the enforcement of national and European laws.

It is essential to ensure that they are adequately protected from personal, professional or legal reprisals, to the detriment of their own and their families’ fundamental freedoms and rights.

Therefore, in December 2019, Directive (EU) 2019/1937 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the “Protection of persons reporting breaches of Union law” entered into force, marking a turning point in a field characterised by the presence of deficient and fragmented national regulations, establishing minimum standards of protection.

The Directive requires Member States to ensure that: (i) whistleblowers have at their disposal effective channels to report breaches of EU rules confidentially, both internally (within an organisation) and externally (to a competent authority), (ii) whistleblowers’ reports are properly investigated and acted upon by the organisations and competent authorities; and that (iii) whistleblowers are protected from retaliation.

The deadline for transposition of the text into national law expired on 17 December 2021. Despite many delays, almost all EU Member States have passed laws to transpose the Directive into national law.

The report finds that all Member States have transposed the Directive’s main provisions. A large majority of Member States have extended the Directive’s protection regime to other areas of national law. Several Member States have provided for additional measures of support, such as financial and psychological assistance to reporting persons.

However, according to the European Commission, the transposition needs to be improved on certain key areas, such as the material scope, the conditions for protection and the measures of protection against retaliation, in particular the exemptions from liability and the penalties.

Common problems which have impacted the transposition include restrictive definitions of breaches, mishandling anonymous reports, and inadequate protection for whistleblowers.

Moreover, the Commission regrets the overall very late transposition of the Directive, which led to infringement proceedings against 24 countries. These delays have chilled potential whistleblowers, undermining EU law enforcement.

Therefore, the Commission will keep pushing for compliance and assess the need for further measures by 2026. After a sufficient period of implementation, and no later than 2026, the Commission will submit to the European Parliament and the Council the report referred to in Article 27(3), assessing the functioning of the Directive and considering the need for additional measures, including amendments with a view to extending its scope to further EU acts or areas.