European Court of Auditors: opinion on EC’s whistleblower protection Directive

October 22, 2018

On the 15th of October 2018, the European Court of Auditors (“ECA”) published an opinion following the Commission’s proposed Directive on the protection of persons reporting on breaches of Union law as published on the 23rd of April 2018, the whistleblower protection Directive.

Generally, the ECA receives the proposed whistleblower protection Directive positively. It “warmly welcomes” the proposal, considering that the “introduction or extension of whistleblowing systems in all Member States would help improve the management of EU policies from the bottom up through the actions of citizens and employees, as a complement to top-down enforcement such as actions for infringement initiated by the Commission against Member States.”

Specifically, the ECA endorses various elements of the Commission’s proposal, as specified beneath. For an analysis of the Commission’s proposed whistleblower protection Directive, please see our previously published article.

Broad scope

The ECA endorses the Commission proposal’s broad scope, including volunteers, unpaid trainees, persons in the process of being recruited, contractors, sub-contractors and consultants in the group of potential whistleblowers.

Substantiation of thresholds

The ECA states that the Commission should substantiate its proposed thresholds for the obligation to establish internal reporting channels and procedures for whistleblowing. In the EC’s proposed whistleblower protection Directive, private legal entities with fewer than 50 employees or with a turnover or balance sheet total of less than €10 million would be excluded from this obligation, with the exception of entities operating in certain sensitive areas.

Awareness-raising and training

Awareness-raising and training of staff are suggested means of “fostering a positive and trusting environment in which whistleblowing is an accepted part of the corporate culture”. The ECA states that such extended means should be taken into account regarding establishment of procedures for internal reporting and follow-up of reports. Further in the opinion, the ECA explicitly stresses that it would “particularly insist on the importance, in both the public and the private sector, of fostering a positive environment in which whistleblowing is an accepted part of the corporate culture.”

WhistleB has been a long-time advocate of whistleblower protection and support the drafting of a whistleblower protection Directive. We strongly believe that organisations that are transparent and offer secure ways of reporting on wrongdoings without risks of retaliation, are more successful in the long term.

Please do not hesitate to contact us to assess how WhistleB can be of value to your organisation.

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