The European Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs has approved protection measures to establish the rights of whistleblowers and journalists across the bloc to report breaches of EU law in the fields of tax evasion, corruption, public health and safety, and environmental protection without retaliation.
Only 10 EU members – France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Sweden and the UK – currently have regulations that protect both whistleblowers and journalists from facing potential prosecution.
The Committee approved the whistleblower protection legislation following the testimony of the former head of Danske Bank’s Baltics trading unit Howard Wilkinson, who said, “The role of the United Kingdom is an absolute disgrace. Limited liability partnerships and Scottish liability partnerships have been abused for absolutely years.”
The former bank executive called on EU lawmakers to ban non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) such as the one he signed with Danske Bank; “I took the view that the right thing to do was to take his (a senior executive’s) word for it and take the money,” he said when asked why he had signed an NDA with Danske Bank.
NDAs prevent former employees from speaking out over a company’s wrongdoing. “In my estimate, 80%-90% of the money that went through Danske Bank ended up in dollars leaving through US correspondent banks into the financial system,” Wilkinson added.
The new measures voted by the Committee requires the EU’s members to provide safeguards that prevent professional and personal retribution from being exacted against citizens who report wrongdoing, while also providing free advice to whistleblowers and the means to provide legal, financial, and psychological support.