International Law in Brief
New European Rules on the Protection of Whistleblowers Finalized
By: Justine N. Stefanelli | December 10, 2019 - 4:44pm
The European Union and the Council of Europe have each adopted instruments seeking to address the protection of whistleblowers. EU Directive 2019/1937 of October 23, 2019, on the protection of persons who report breaches of Union law represents the first effort of the EU to adopt a Union-wide legislative instrument on the subject matter. A press release from April 2018 at the start of the legislative process states that the new law “will establish safe channels for reporting both within an organisation and to public authorities” and “will also protect whistleblowers against dismissal, demotion and other forms of retaliation and require national authorities to inform citizens and provide training for public authorities on how to deal with whistleblowers.”
During the same time period, the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly adopted Resolution 2300(2019) on October 1, 2019. The Resolution acknowledges the EU legislative progress in this field and emphasizes that European member countries are not precluded from applying the EU-level principles to “those reporting on breaches or abuses of their national law.” The Resolution encourages Council of Europe states that are also EU member states to transpose the EU Directive into their national law as soon as possible and encourages a number of additional measures for national implementation. This includes, inter alia, setting up independent national authorities responsible for protecting whistleblowers, granting whistleblowers the right of asylum, and ensuring that burden of proof rules operate so as to place the burden on the party attacking the whistleblower.