An increased amount of media coverage for whistleblowing activities over the last few years has made policy makers across the European Union aware of the importance of whistleblower protection laws. However, very few countries already have specific whistleblowing legislation. Instead, employees and civil servants in most Member States have to examine anti-corruption, labour and criminal provisions to protect themselves against retaliation by their employer.
The media have played a crucial role in changing the public opinion’s perception on whistleblowing. For journalists, knowing the specific situation for whistleblowers in the different Member States therefore seems crucial. Their role as an external disclosure channel should at this point be diminished and replaced by strong and independent internal whistleblowing schemes in the public authorities and private companies, via which wrongdoings can safely and anonymously be expressed. Should external whistleblowing seem necessary in certain cases, journalists should ensure the anonymity of the employees or civil servants that report irregularities in their company or public authority to them. A strong and far-reaching protection of journalistic sources can therefore be seen as an indirect protection for whistleblowers.
This map will aim to assess the current situation of whistleblower protection in the different Member States, looking at both legal and societal issues.
- Is there (pending) legislation on internal/external disclosure in the public and/or private sector?
- If not, is there a certain degree of protection through different provisions in different laws?
- Do the (highest) courts acknowledge the rights of whistleblowers? Are there appeal mechanisms in place?
- Is there a possibility for compensation for pecuniary or emotional damage?
- Is internal whistleblowing feasible in practice (case law)? Do the ‘employees’ have faith to follow the internal procedure without fear of possible retaliation, breach of confidentiality lawsuits or criminal sanctions?
- How is the public opinion’s perception on whistleblowing?
- Is there corporate governance legislation (for publicly listed and/or non-listed companies)? Are there internal reporting schemes established in corporations?
- Is the protection of journalistic sources protected in the country? Can journalists be requested to disclose their sources by public institutions, e.g. police?
Survey Coordinators: Pieter-Jan Ombelet Laurens Naudts ( ICRI/CIR – KU Leuven )
Web Design: Lorenzo Giuntini
Estonia: Anni Jatsa, Transparency International Estonia
Finland: Salla Vuorikoski
Germany: Guido Strack, Whistleblower-Netzwerk Germany
Greece: Anna Damaskou, Transparency International Greece
Hungary: Fanny Hidvégi with the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (TASZ)
Ireland: Donncha O’Giobúin, Transparency International Ireland
Italy: Gaetano Citro and Laura Marconi
Lithuania: Paulius Murauskas, Transparency International Lithuania
Luxembourg: Transparency International Luxembourg
Malta: EUI team with help from Joseph Zammit, Chairman Transparency Malta
The Netherlands: Advice Centre for Whistleblowers in the Netherlands.
United Kingdom: Sam Bereket, Privacy Concern at Work
Mark Worth, Transparency International