It is important that the European Union openly addresses corruption and vital that it does so in the spirit of democratic values. The new EC/EU Report speaks briefly about whistleblower protection and states that it is about encouraging a culture of integrity in order to overcome reluctance and fear. While this statement is welcome it is not enough. Facilitating a workplace culture of openness for those come across a risk of harm or malpractice such that they are able to speak up early and safely requires a fundamental commitment by employers, organisations and authorities to heed the information that is provided. Further, while most whistleblowers (people like you and me) would only ever consider speaking out publicly as a last resort, whistleblowing is ultimately about public accountability. In European democracies this should not be difficult to discuss in real and practical terms.
Whistleblower protection is more than codifying “processes within public administrations to allow official channels for reporting” (see page 20 of Report). Whistleblowing laws need to cover the private sector and allow for disclosures to independent authorities and ultimately in the public domaine, if they are to be effective in promoting accountability. If EU member states are serious about tackling corruption or indeed preventing environmental damage, deterring financial malpractice, saving lives in hospitals, and stopping cross-border trafficking – they must do something to change the status quo. It is in the public interest.