New EU-wide whistle-blower rules approved

On April 16, the European Parliament voted(1) in favor of adopting new European Union (“EU”) wide standards to protect whistle-blowers. The standards are designed to protect whistle-blowers that reveal breaches of EU law in areas of public procurement, financial services and tax, money laundering, product and transport safety, protection of the environment, food and feed safety, animal health and welfare, nuclear safety, public health, security of network and information systems, competition, consumer and data protection, fraud, corruption and any other illegal activity affecting the use of Union expenditures.

The new rules allow whistle-blowers to disclose information either internally to the responsible legal entity, or national authorities, as well as any relevant EU institutions, bodies, offices, and agencies. The law prohibits reprisals and includes safeguards preventing the whistle-blower from being suspended, demoted or from facing other types of retaliation.

Recent scandals such as LuxLeaks, Panama Papers and Football leaks have helped to shine a light on the great precariousness that whistle-blowers suffer today. On the eve of European elections, Parliament has come together to send a strong signal that it has heard the concerns of its citizens, and pushed for robust rules guaranteeing their safety and that of those persons who choose to speak out.” - Virginie Roziere (S&D, FR)

Some Adopted Text

Persons who work for a public or private organisation or are in contact with it in the context of their work-related activities are often the first to know about threats or harm to the public interest which arise in this context. By ‘blowing the whistle’ they play a key role in exposing and preventing breaches of the law that are harmful to the public interest and in safeguarding the welfare of society. However, potential whistleblowers are often discouraged from reporting their concerns or suspicions for fear of retaliation. In this context, the importance of providing balanced and effective whistleblower protection is increasingly acknowledged both at European and international level.”(2)

To enjoy protection, the reporting persons should reasonably believe, in light of the circumstances and the information available to them at the time of the reporting, that the matters reported by them are true. This is an essential safeguard against malicious and frivolous or abusive reports, ensuring that those who, at the time of the reporting, deliberately and knowingly reported wrong or misleading information do not enjoy protection. At the same time, it ensures that protection is not lost where the reporting person made an inaccurate report in honest error. In a similar vein, reporting persons should be entitled to protection under this Directive if they have reasonable grounds to believe that the information reported falls within its scope. The motives of the reporting person in making the report should be irrelevant as to whether or not they should receive protection.”(2)

Next Steps

EU ministers now need to approve the law. Once approved, member states will have two years to come into compliance with the law.

GCSG Advisory Professionals will be keeping up with the progress of this legislation. Contact us to learn more.

References

The 'Blue Guide' on the implementation of EU product rules 2016

On April 5, 2016 the European Commission posted an updated 'Blue Guide'.  The guides intended purpose is to enhance the understanding of EU product rules.  The 2016 version of the Blue Guide replaces the 2000 edition.  Key topics covered within the guide include:

  • Regulating the free movement of goods
  • When does union harmonization legislation on products apply?
  • The actors in the product supply chain and their obligations
  • Product requirements
  • Conformity assessment
  • Accreditation
  • Market surveillance    

Key Link(s):

EU Updates Restrictive Measures Concerning Iran, North Korea & Central African Republic

Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2016/603 of 18 April 2016 implementing Regulation (EU) No 267/2012 concerning restrictive measures against Iran

Council Decision (CFSP) 2016/609 of 18 April 2016 amending Decision 2010/413/CFSP concerning restrictive measures against Iran

Council Regulation (EU) 2016/555 of 11 April 2016 amending Regulation (EU) No 224/2014 concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in the Central African Republic

Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2016/556 of 11 April 2016 implementing Regulation (EU) No 359/2011 concerning restrictive measures directed against certain persons, entities and bodies in view of the situation in Iran

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2016/569 of 12 April 2016 amending Council Regulation (EC) No 329/2007 concerning restrictive measures against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea

Council Decision (CFSP) 2016/564 of 11 April 2016 amending Decision 2013/798/CFSP concerning restrictive measures against the Central African Republic

Council Decision (CFSP) 2016/565 of 11 April 2016 amending Decision 2011/235/CFSP concerning restrictive measures directed against certain persons and entities in view of the situation in Iran

Council Implementing Decision (CFSP) 2016/573 of 12 April 2016 implementing Decision 2013/183/CFSP concerning restrictive measures against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea