European Parliament backs EU-wide protection for whistleblowers

The European Parliament has backed a proposal to create a horizontal framework for EU-wide protections for whistleblowers who expose misconduct.

UNI Europa’s Professionals and Managers Group has been a key player advocating for reform as a founding member of the platform set up in 2016 with Eurocadres (the European Council of Professional and Managerial Staff). The platform consists of different European and national trade union organisations and confederations, as well as NGOs, calling for EU-wide whistleblower protection. A website was set up to collect signatures and it has, to date, got the backing of 82 organisations and more than 5,100 individuals, who have signed up a total of 81,000 pledges for action from the EU.

UNI Europa believes that EU-wide whistleblower protection can save lives, money and the environment. EU protection should cover all fields of horizontal competence as well as unlawful acts and wrongdoings (it should not just be limited to illegal acts). Any reports on wrongdoings should also be treated anonymously and efficiently. You can read our full report here.

Speaking after the vote, S&D MEP and author of the report Virginie Rozière, said: “Whistleblowers and investigative journalists play a vital role in our societies. As the LuxLeaks and Panama Papers show, they can help expose corruption and the dodgy dealings of multinational companies and the global elite. However, far too often, they are the ones that face repercussions – risking their jobs, liberty, and sometimes even their lives. That fact was made all too real with the horrific murder of the investigative journalist and blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta last week. Across Europe, we need to do more to protect those that hold the rich and powerful to account.

“Today the European Parliament backed our call to create protection for whistleblowers wherever they are in the EU. Despite the attempt of right-wing groups to water down our proposals, we have adopted a clear vision for what EU wide protection should look like. We demand that the European Commission finally get serious about this subject. Nice words are not enough, we need legislation put forward before the end of the year.”

UNI Global Union’s Director for Professionals and Managers, Pav Akhtar, who has been coordinating UNI Europa P&M affiliates’ efforts, and the liaison with Eurocadres, said: “The own-initiative report on the legitimate measures to protect whistleblowers acting in the public interest by Virginie Rozière was voted through in the European Parliament with 399 votes for and 101 votes against. This is a very strong political statement from the democratic centre that Europe needs whistleblower protection.

“UNI Europa’s P&M affiliates from all sectors across Europe have backed our calls for the Commission to be courageous and initiate discussions of a directive proposal that covers both private and public sectors because this is what is needed to protect whistleblowers across sectors. Our workers and the public’s safety, health and environment are all at stake without courageous whistleblowers being protected when they step up and do the right thing by exposing wrongdoing.”

You can read our full report here.