11/01/2019 – In a press release yesterday,
WIN Member and co-founding organisation Whistleblower-Netzwerk called upon Germany, as a key member of the European Council to agree on minimum standards for whistleblower protection by February so that robust protection for whistleblowers can be adopted before the European elections in May 2019.
Outlining three minimum standards that would vastly improve legal protections for whistleblowers in the EU, Whistleblower-Netzwerk also challenged the German government to make their stance on whistleblower protection clear and asked whether Germany’s influence in the European Council would once again be used to obstruct progress on the issue.
WIN is committed to making whistleblowing work in Europe and is pleased to support organisations like Whistleblower-Netzwerk who are campaigning for democracy, transparency and accountability – qualities that are absent from the current focus in the European Council on employer security and the safeguarding of trade secrets.
What is the EU about: Just the Protection of Trade Secrets? What about the Overdue Protection of Whistleblowers?
The European Council must soon give an answer. The Member States must agree on minimum standards for whistleblower protection in order to be able to enter the trilogue negotiations with the Commission and the EP. A joint draft of the planned directive should be submitted to Parliament by February so that harmonised whistleblower protection can still be adopted by the EP before the European elections in May.
Annegret Falter, Chairperson of Whistleblower Network Germany, calls for a clear signal to European citizens in view of the rampant disenchantment with the EU:
“It would be a statement of democratic bankruptcy by national government parties if in the upcoming election campaign they had to explain to civil society that whistleblowers in Europe continue to be inadequately protected, while the protection of “trade secrets” (Directive 2016/943) was extended. Freedom of expression and information, transparency and accountability would seem to be considered as of secondary importance“.
The German government, too, must put their cards on the table. Their interest in Whistleblower protection tends towards zero, as proven by the coalition contract. Will Germany once again act as a blocker in the Council, where its vote has considerable influence?
As far as whistleblower protection is concerned, a traditionally employer-friendly case law prevails, occasionally supplemented by sectoral laws. This means an unacceptable (legal) insecurity for potential whistleblowers. A horizontal law must create more clarity. The planned directive from Brussels could provide the impetus and at the same time establish three minimum standards:
1. a comprehensive scope, including the private and public sector
2. reliable protection of whistleblowers against retaliation of any kind
3. the freedom of judgement for responsible employees as to whether they first report wrongdoing “internally” to their superiors or “externally” to law enforcement or supervisory authorities.
Whistleblower Network calls on the German government to ensure that the Council and the trilogue parties adopt a directive on whistleblower protection that lives up to Europe’s promise of democracy.