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18 March 2019

Europe: enhanced protection for whistleblowers

On 15 March 2019, the Member States confirmed the political agreement between the Council of the European Union (EU) and the European Parliament on the whistleblower protection directive.
The Minister of Justice commends the forthcoming adoption of this key text, which demonstrates, with just a few weeks to go until crucial European elections, that Europe protects its citizens.

The directive will provide for effective, uniform protection of whistleblowers in all EU Member States and across a broad sectoral spectrum:
  • public health,
  • tax avoidance,
  • data protection,
  • the environment,
  • election campaigns.
Until now, only nine Member States, France among them, had adopted comprehensive legislation on the subject.

France: an active participant in the spadework for the directive

France invested significant efforts in bringing this text swiftly about: experts from the Ministry of Justice assisted the Commission in drafting the proposal for a directive in 2017. The French authorities took a flexible approach so as to retain a single instrument – in spite of the significant legal constraints – with a broad scope particularly encompassing certain taxation aspects.

In liaison with their partners at the Council, they suggested alternative or additional wording, strove to clarify the text when this appeared necessary and discussed with the European Parliament's rapporteur, Virginie Rozière, on several occasions.

As are all European instruments, this directive is the fruit of several compromises. Over these past few weeks Parliament and Council have held negotiations in a bid to find common ground and agree on a common text. France advocated for a balanced approach in this respect, vowing to provide whistleblowers with the widest possible protection against the risk of reprisals, whilst guaranteeing a legal mechanism in proportion with the different levels of gravity.

Member States will have two years in which to transpose the directive. Together with the other ministries concerned, the Ministry of Justice will be fully involved in this process.