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

EU - Japan trade agreement effective on Feb 1, 2019

On February 1, 2019 the European Union (EU) - Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) becomes effective. The EPA creates a trading area that covers 600 million people and close to a third of global gross domestic product.

The EPA is the biggest trade agreement concluded to date by the EU. 99% of the tariffs applied on EU exports to Japan which currently amount to €1 billion, will be removed.”(1)

The EU exports more than 58 billion in goods and 28 billion in services to Japan each year.(2)

References

  1. European Council Press Release - “EU-Japan trade agreement will enter into force on 1 February 2019” - 21/12/2018

  2. European Commission - “EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement” - Official Page

  3. European Commission - “Fact sheets about the agreement” - News archive

Singapore Makes Changes to their Strategic Goods Control List

On September 4, 2018 Singapore Customs announced they have modified their Strategic Goods Control List.(1)  The changes, when they come into effect, will bring Singapore's strategic goods control list up to date with the 2017 Wassenaar Arrangement's Munitions List (2), and the 2017 European Union's List of Dual-Use Items.(3)  

The amendments include new controls, removal of controls, and other minor editorial changes.  Singapore Customs published a document with the changes noted in detail.(4)

The changes will become effective on November 1, 2018.

References:

Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) Guidance Updated

On March 11, 2016 the European Commission published an update to the AEO Guidelines.  The AEO concept is one of the key security elements created within the Community Customs Code (Regulation (EC) 648/2005).  The guidelines were recently updated to account for the experience gained, ensure harmonized implementation of the AEO rules, and align the guidance with the Union Customs Code (Regulation (EU) 952/2013).  The Union Customs Code was adopted on October 9, 2013, entered into force on October 30, 2013, and will apply on May 1, 2016.    

AEO status can be granted by any Member State to an economic operator meeting certain criteria in the following areas: customs compliance, record-keeping, financial solvency and, where relevant, appropriate security and safety standards.

Key Links:

Key Term(s):

Authorized Economic Operator - is defined by the WCO SAFE Framework of Standards as a party involved in the international movement of goods, in whatever function, that has been approved by, or on behalf of, a national Customs administration as complying with WCO or equivalent supply chain security standards. AEOs include inter alia manufacturers, importers, exporters, brokers, carriers, consolidators, intermediaries, ports, airports, terminal operators, integrated operators, warehouses and distributors.

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