The European Union approved EU whistleblower protection rules Tuesday.
“This is a good step toward protecting whistleblowers and toward protecting European democracy,” Virginie Rozière, a member the European Parliament (MEP) said in French at a press conference following the decision.
The new law, approved by the European Parliament on Tuesday, shields whistleblowers from retaliation. It also creates “safe channels” to allow them to report breaches of EU law. It is the first time whistleblowers have been given EU-wide protection.
The rules have previously been in the hands of member states, resulting in a range of vastly different approaches.The law was approved by 591 votes, with 29 votes against and 33 abstentions.
Moments after the vote, Virginie Roziere, the French centre-left MEP who steered the file through the parliament, in a tweet claimed victory for European democracy.
“There were a lot of links in the chain for this to be passed,” she said at a press conference in Strasbourg, noting that the negotiations had taken some 13 months.
Both Danske Bank whistleblower, Howard Wilkinson, and his attorney, Stephen M. Kohn, chair of the National Whistleblower Center, pushed for stronger protections in the law.
Wilkinson testified before a European Parliament Committee in November. In a letter to EU, Kohn noted the proposed E.U. whistleblower directive “should not undermine the ability of whistleblowers to remain confidential, throughout the reporting process, as this creates the opportunity to intimidate witnesses and may tip criminals off to the evidence against them.”