Legal framework

Whistleblower protection has made significant advances in recent years, particularly in Europe. Following years of pressure by civil society, a new EU Whistleblowing Directive was passed in 2019. An international technical standard for whistleblower management systems – ISO 37002 – is forthcoming.

The new Directive provides minimum standards which will be enacted across all EU member states. The law will require employers to provide channels for making reports and protect whistleblowers from retaliation. Among the strengths of the Directive are range of organisations and individuals it protects, the obligations it puts on public and private employers and the protections it gives whistleblowers whose cases come to court.

EAT as a direct response to the Directive

EU member states are obliged to pass their own legislation to give force to the Directive’s provisions. Formally, the deadline for these national laws to come into force passes in December 2021. Partly due to the coronavirus pandemic, many EU member states look set to miss this deadline.

How this transposition process in implemented will make a difference in how effective – and how comprehensive – the Directive’s protections are in practice.

The EAT Project responded directly to this opportunity in several ways. Firstly, and most obviously, by providing secure and anonymous submissions systems for public and private sector organisations, EAT’s offering represented exactly the kinds of systems the Directive asks employers to implement. EAT’s beneficiary dropboxes represent a series of examples of how these systems can be set up, best practice for running them and the positive consequences that result.

Through our work on deploying submissions system technologies on the ground, we found that many organisations in the public and private sector will prefer to wait for national legal obligations to come into force before adopting whistleblowing systems and will want detailed guidance on governance and legal issues when they do. More detail on these findings is available in the EAT Project final report.

Finally, EAT Project partners have been directly involved in the process of transposing the Directive into national law. Tools and other materials to assist effective transposition – and advocacy to that end – were produced as part of the Project. Partner organisations have also been engaged directly as stakeholders in national legislative processes.