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European Parliament Supports Whistle-Blower Law

BRUSSELS – The European Parliament voted in favor of an EU law to protect whistle-blowers on Tuesday, EU observer reported Wednesday.
With the widespread support of 591 MEPs, the EU directive lays down rules to protect whistle-blowers from retaliation and provides them with a safe means of reporting breaches of EU law.
Moments after the vote, Virginie Roziere, the French center-left MEP who led the dossier by the Parliament, said in a tweet the victory of European democracy.
“There are a lot of links in the chain for this to be adopted,” she told a press conference in Strasbourg, noting that the negotiations lasted about 13 months.
“In yesterday’s debate, all the political groups and all the institutions agreed to welcome the text,” she added.
The draft law still needs to be approved by EU ministers and then transposed into national law over the next two years.
Tuesday’s vote represents a turning point for whistle-blowers across the European Union following numerous bank scandals and tax evasion.
The European Commission initially opposed the idea of European laws on the issue.
But the combined efforts of civil society, journalists’ unions and MEPs, as well as the 2014 tax evasion scandal known as Lux Leaks, helped convince the EU executive to present a draft of law in 2018.
Nick Aiossa, Policy Officer at Transparency International EU, a Brussels-based NGO, said it was the European Commission that tabled a compromise amendment at the end.
“I congratulate all the institutions that have joined forces to ensure that those who wish to report corruption can turn to law enforcement authorities or regulators as a matter of priority,” he told the website.
The Commission’s initial proposal forced whistle-blowers to use internal reporting channels first in order to obtain protection.
Aiossa said that member states must now transpose the law in the strongest possible way and include all national laws that are not covered by the directive.
The Directive applies to the private and public sectors and covers areas such as public procurement, consumer protection, nuclear safety and the EU’s financial interests.
This means that people are not likely to lose their jobs or other forms of punishment if they report wrongdoing.
Only 10 EU Member States have put in place specific legislation to protect whistle-blowers.
The new EU law aims to fill the legislative loopholes in the hope of saving billions of dollars to taxpayers in areas such as public procurement.
The abuses often suffered by whistle-blowers have probably discouraged many others.
Antoine Deltour, the French listener who contributed to exposing the Lux Leaks scandal during his stay at Pricewaterhousecoopers (PwC), was sentenced to a jail sentence and additional legal fees for his efforts.
He told EU observer in 2017 that his legal bills had then exceeded 60,000 euros, in addition to other costs for his personal life.
“I think a very long and costly process is in itself a deterrent for some potential whistleblowers,” he said.
In a 2017 Eurobarometer survey on corruption, more than 80% of respondents said they had not reported any corruption experienced or detected.
The new European law now seeks to encourage them to become potential whistleblowers.
Some 29 MPs voted against the law. 33 others abstained.
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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