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BERLIN: April 23, 2018. The European Commission has published its proposed Whistleblower Directive to protect individuals who have discovered workplace corruption or illegality while providing employers with greater legal certainty around their rights and obligations.

The proposal, which is a victory for whistleblowers and campaigners alike, could not come at a more vital time said anti-corruption group Transparency International.

Until now EU countries have had different levels of protection for those who wish to expose the truth, with some countries such as Ireland having good laws in place while some such as Cyprus having practically none.

daphneproject 620wCurrently only 10 EU Member States ensure that whistleblowers are fully protected. In the remaining countries the protection granted is partial and only applies to specific sectors or categories of employee.

“Behind each and every major scandal, from Lux Leaks, to the Panama Papers and Cambridge Analytica, change in our time is being driven by whistleblowers,” said Nicholas Aiossa of Transparency International EU. “The European Commission has produced an ambitious proposal, which will need to be strengthened to ensure that whistleblowers, no matter who they are or where they work, will be protected.”

Under the proposed Directive, a whistleblower is granted protection when reporting on breaches of EU rules in the areas of: public procurement, financial services, anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing, product safety, transport safety, environmental protection, nuclear safety, public health, food and feed safety, animal health and welfare, consumer protection, protection of privacy and personal data, and security of network and information systems.

The Directive would also apply to breaches relating to Union competition rules, breaches harming the EU's financial interests and, in view of their negative impact on the proper functioning of the internal market, to breaches of corporate tax rules “or arrangements whose purpose is to obtain a tax advantage that defeats the object or purpose of the applicable corporate tax law”.

European Commission First vice president Frans Timmermans commented: "Many recent scandals may never have come to light if insiders hadn't had the courage to speak out. But those who did took enormous risks. There should be no punishment for doing the right thing. In addition, today's proposals also protect those who act as sources for investigative journalists, helping to ensure that freedom of expression and freedom of the media are defended in Europe."

The proposal will now have to be negotiated between the European Parliament and European Council before being adopted.

Pictured: When anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed in a car bombing in Malta last year, the investigations she was working on came to a sudden halt. Last month a whistleblower that reportedly helped her was arrested.

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