Better protection of whistle-blowers: new EU-wide rules to kick in in 2021

8 Oct 2019 10:54 AM

The EU is to guarantee a high level protection to whistle-blowers across a wide range of sectors including public procurement, financial services, money laundering, product and transport safety, nuclear safety, public health, consumer and data protection.

Yesterday the Council formally adopted new rules on whistle-blowers protection. The new rules will require the creation of safe channels for reporting both within an organisation - private or public - and to public authorities. It will also provide a high level of protection to whistle-blowers against retaliation, and require national authorities to adequately inform citizens and train public officials on how to deal with whistle-blowing.

The legislation will now be formally signed and published in the Official journal. Member states will have two years to transpose the new rules into their national law.

Anna-Maja Henriksson, Finland's Minister of Justice yesterday said:

The EU is committed to having a well functioning democratic system based on the rule of law. That includes providing a high level of protection across the Union to those whistle-blowers who have the courage to speak up. No one should risk their reputation or job for exposing illegal behaviours.

The main elements of the compromise include:


Whistle-blowers are people speaking up when they encounter, in the context of their work, wrongdoing that can harm the public interest, for instance by damaging the environment, public health and consumer safety and public finances.

Whistle-blower protection is currently covered in a fragmented manner. At the moment, only 10 EU countries have a comprehensive law protecting whistleblowers. At EU level, there is legislation in only a limited number of sectors (mostly in the areas of financial services) which include measures to protect whistleblowers.

A 2017 study carried out for the Commission estimated the loss of potential benefits due to a lack of whistle-blower protection, in public procurement alone, to be in the range of €5.8 to €9.6 billion each year for the EU as a whole.

Visit the meeting page

Press contacts

Romain Sadet

Press officer

+32 2 281 89 14
+32 473 86 54 37