Reached after difficult negotiations between the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union (representing member states), the agreement nonetheless represents real progress and opens the way to final adoption of an EU directive on protecting whistleblowers before the EU elections in May.
“This is a major step forward in the protection of whistleblowers and therefore in the fight against corruption and for democracy,” said Julie Majerczak, RSF’s representative to the European institutions.“The importance of their role in revealing public interest information has repeatedly been confirmed in recent years in such cases as the Panama Papers, LuxLeaks and France’s Mediator scandal. RSF nonetheless regrets that whistleblowers who go directly to the media are only protected by this agreement under certain conditions.”
The compromise reached between the European Parliament and the Council of the EU protects whistleblowers who go directly to the media only when there is an imminent or manifest danger to the public interest, or a risk of reprisals, or a risk of evidence being covered up, or when the public authority concerned is somehow implicated in the breach.
RSF has for years been calling for the broadest possible protection for those who – often at great risk to themselves – inform the general public about activities that threaten the public interest. Limiting the ability of a whistleblower to turn to journalists in order to inform the public through them is tantamount to limiting the public’s right to information.