On 7 October 2019, the EU Council formally adopted the new Whistleblowing Directive that will guarantee whistleblowers EU-wide standards of protection. The Directive obliges both public and private organisations and authorities to set up secure reporting channels, so that whistleblowers can report violations of EU law as safely as possible. Member States have two years to transpose the rules into national law.
The main elements of the new legislation are:
- Companies with more than 50 employees and national and regional administrations and local municipalities with more than 10,000 inhabitants will be obliged to set up secure reporting channels. They will have to provide a response to reports of maladministration within three months. This is extended to six months for external reporting channels and in complex cases.
- While whistleblowers must in general use their organisation’s internal channels first, before using external channels set up by competent national authorities, they can still retain their protection if they immediately turn to an external agency in certain circumstances.
- Under the new rules whistleblowers are protected from reprisals such as suspension, demotion or intimidation. Protection is also granted to their supporters, such as colleagues and relatives. The policy also contains a list of supporting measures to which whistleblowers must have access.
- The new rules apply to breaches of EU legislation in a wide range of areas including public procurement, financial services, prevention of money laundering, and public health. The definition of whistleblower in the rules extends to cover a wide range of profiles: employees, civil servants at national or local level, volunteers and trainees, non-executive members, and associates.