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EU scolds member states for failing to protect whistleblowers 

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The European Commission reprimands as many as 26 countries of the EU’s 27 member states for failing to meet deadlines set in the EU Whistleblower Directive. This demonstrates a weak commitment to protect whistleblowers from retaliation.

Portugal and Sweden receive formal notices for delays 

Every month, the European Commission pursues legal action against member states for failing to comply with their obligations under EU law. Infringement decisions aim to ensure the proper application of EU law, for the benefit of both individuals and companies. 

If countries do not comply with the law, a formal notification may be issued. This is the first step in a five-step process that may result in a country being fined and forced to comply with the law.

On February 9, the Commission sent formal notices to Portugal and Sweden for deciding to postpone the implementation date of their national whistleblower laws. In Portugal, the transposition law will enter into force on 19 June 2022, 180 days after its publication. In Sweden, the implementation of certain requirements has been delayed until 17 July 2022. 

Both countries have met the deadline of 17 December 2021 for transposition of the EU Directive into national law. 

24 member states are failing to protect whistleblowers 

The EU Whistleblowing Directive was adopted over two years ago, in October 2019. The set deadline for transposing the Directive into national legislation was 17 December 2021. More than two years later, most EU countries are still lacking comprehensive national whistleblower legislation. 

In January 2022, the European Commission sent formal notices to as many as 24 EU countries. All of which missed the deadline in December. Denmark and Lithuania had both passed new whistleblower laws, however they did not enter into force before the deadline. Since then, Cyprus, France, Latvia and Italy have also passed new laws. 

Ironically, only Malta, which is considered to have one of the poorest whistleblower protection systems in Europe, has fully succeeded in complying with the EU Directive. Malta passed a new whistleblower law on November 16. It came into effect on December 17 (together with the EU directive). The law has, however, been criticized for the lack of consultation and being rushed through. 

Failure to protect whistleblowers in the EU member states has consequences 

Thus far, the EU Whistleblowing Directive is not panning out exactly as hoped. The few national whistleblower laws already in force have been criticized for not including details on how to protect employees from retaliation or compensate them for lost wages and other negative consequences. In Denmark, for example, the law contains highly subjective criteria such as making a “necessary” disclosure. This could pose problem for witnesses.  

Given that all countries’ processes are quite unique, ongoing learning and evaluation is necessary for these laws to fulfill their potential. The question remains whether or not the EU member countries will take a serious approach to the protection of whistleblowers. Postponing the legislation will allow wrongdoings that threaten lives, our planet, or the economy, to continue. All because potential whistleblowers are too afraid to speak up. 

Read more: Where countries are up to in adopting the EU Whistleblowing Directive 

Would you like to learn more about a whistleblowing service and safe internal reporting channels? Read more about the EU Whistleblowing Directive here and at EUR-Lex.

Are you looking for a safe and secure whistleblowing solution? Read more here.

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