Protecting Whistleblowers in The European Union – a First Step on a Long and Uncertain Road

LuxLeaks, Panama Papers, Paradise Papers – the public revelations in recent years of tax avoidance, financial fraud and preferential treatment of companies by institutions and governments are multiple. Recently, news about tremendous schemes of illegal activities against the public interest have been added to those – Diesel Gate, Cambridge Analytica. A the same time, the absence of clear regulation on what constitutes whistleblowing in the benefit of the public and what are the rights of those who uncover irregularities, leads to paradoxes such as for example the court’s conviction against Antoine Deltour, a former employee at the international consultancy giant Pricewaterhouse Coopers, who blew the whistle to the media about hundreds of secretive tax agreements between the Great Duchy of Luxembourg and international corporations, some of which have succeeded to guarantee themselves the notoriously low tax rate of 1%. In the spring of last year, following increased public pressure for action at European level, the European Commission initiated a public consultation about the scope of such potential legislation. A year later, the proposal of the Commission is already available – it was formally presented a few weeks ago. This is still a small step forward but sometimes it is the small steps that are of greatest importance, considering the fact that the effort to make this step was exhaustingly long – civil society organisations in the EU have been lobbying in favour of such legislation for over a decade now, and in recent years over 80 000 Europeans have signed petitions in support of such an initiative. What has the Commission proposed and what are the next steps and risks in the process. Find out more in the analysis by Dr. Linka Toneva.