Supporting People who Speak Out

Blueprint Releases New Report Series On Whistleblowing in Europe

1. ‘Gaps in the System: Whistleblowers Laws in the EU’ evaluates specific whistleblower protection laws across all EU member countries against nine recognised European and international standards.
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2. ‘Safe or Sorry: Whistleblower Protection Laws in Europe Deliver Mixed Results’ is the first independent public report by an NGO assessing how well whistleblower laws across Europe are working in practice.
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Blueprint’s new report series on whistleblower protection in Europe shows that protections are still low across EU countries. Whistleblowers need stronger, more comprehensive laws – and those laws need to work in practice.

‘Gaps in the System’ evaluates specific whistleblower protection laws across all EU member countries against nine recognised European and international standards. The 28 EU countries’ total score in meeting the standards was 173 out of 759 points – just 23%. The companion report ‘Safe or Sorry’ is the first independent public report by an NGO assessing how well whistleblower laws across Europe are working in practice.

These reports show that there has been progress on whistleblower protection in Europe. In all, 16 EU-member countries have specific laws or provisions now, with three more countries providing at least partial legal protections for whistleblowers. Ten of the 16 countries adopted their specific laws or provisions in the past 5 years.

Blueprint’s report series finds that more than half the EU-member countries now meet at least three of the nine studied international standards, in part or full.

Further, some recent whistleblower protection implementations and cases show movement forward in practice, notably in Ireland, which also receives the highest evaluation score (66.7%) in the ‘Gaps’ report.

However, there is still considerable work to be done, with seven countries scoring a zero when rated against these standards, and eight more earning a rating below 25% when compared with nine international standards for whistleblower protection.

  • When it comes to protecting whistleblowers from all types of retaliation, 13 countries – 46% of EU member states – fail this standard (Countries with zero score – Standard 3). This is important because whistleblowers will not step forward if they fear being demoted, sacked or threatened.
  • In the creation of penalties for retaliation or other mistreatment against whistleblowers, 75% of EU countries failed to meet any of this standard (Countries with zero score- Standard 7).
  • When it comes to providing a range of disclosure channels, 43% of EU-member countries also failed to meet any of this standard. This standard is important as it reflects countries’ commitment to freedom of expression (Countries with zero score – Standard 2).

Blueprint’s new reports form part of the activities of the Change of Direction of Direct Project team in support of whistleblower protection across Europe. As part of this project, we have also recently published our series of video interviews with whistleblowers across Europe entitled ‘Meet the Whistleblowers’. These short films bring home the human costs of truth-telling when protection mechanisms fail or are non-existent.

We welcome any comments or thoughts – contact us via our contact page

The partners in the Change of Direction Project are: Blueprint for Free Speech, FIBGAR, Latte Creative, Libera Association, The Department of Political and Social Sciences at The University of Pavia and GREQAM (Aix-Marseille University School of Economics).