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EU agrees on stronger whistleblower protection

European Union (EU) negotiators have agreed to rules that will grant stronger protection to whistleblowers, following series of scandals brought to light by insiders going public with incriminating information.

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The commission’s Vice President, Frans Timmermans, welcomed the agreement on Tuesday, following late-night negotiations between representatives of the European Parliament and member states.

“We should protect whistleblowers from being punished, sacked, demoted or sued in court for doing the right thing for society. These new, EU-wide whistleblowers’ protection rules do exactly that. This will help tackle fraud, corruption, corporate tax avoidance and damage to people’s health and the environment,’’ Timmermans added.

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According to him, the new rules include establishing safe channels for whistleblowers to report their concerns.

“The rule includes the option of raising the issue directly with authorities if they fear retaliation or believe their company will not address the matter. The rules will also protect whistleblowers against dismissal, demotion and other forms of retaliation while offering protection in courts of law,’’ Timmermans said.

Nick Aiossa of Transparency International, a campaign group, said: “Today is a historic day for those wish to expose corruption and wrongdoing’’.

The measures will take effect about two years after they are officially approved by EU lawmakers and governments, a move that is expected to be a formality.

Scandals uncovered by whistleblowers in recent years include money laundering revelations at Danske Bank; the Panama Papers and the LuxLeaks scandals, which detailed tax evasion practices.

They also uncovered Facebook data breaches involving Cambridge Analytica.

According to the EU legislature, presently, just 10 of the EU’s 28 member states offer full legal protection to whistleblowers. (dpa/NAN)