On December 9, the National Whistleblower Center (NWC) and Whistleblowing International announced the launch of the European Center for Whistleblower Rights, the first independent non-profit dedicated to securing stronger whistleblower laws in Europe, directly assisting European whistleblowers, and ensuring that crimes, corruption, and public health dangers exposed by whistleblowers are investigated and remedied. December 9 was chosen as the launch date in recognition of the UN’s International Anti-Corruption Day.
One of the first campaigns the European Center for Whistleblower Rights will undertake is a campaign to ensure that all European countries fully incorporate the 2019 EU directive on whistleblower protection into their national policies and practices. In October 2019, the European Union (EU) approved the “EU Whistleblower Directive” which sets common minimum standards for whistleblower protection laws. All 27 member countries now have until December 2021 to pass a comprehensive whistleblower law in accordance with the Directive.
According to the European Center for Whistleblower Rights, “many activists and NGOs that pushed EU officials to pass the Directive have joined our campaign to ensure it is properly incorporated into national laws.” As part of the campaign, the international whistleblower law firm Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto shared a memorandum on best practices for whistleblower legislation. Currently, 13 European countries have no whistleblower protections whatsoever and throughout the continent severe whistleblower retaliation cases have occurred.
A related campaign by the Center is a campaign to implement whistleblower reward laws in Europe. Currently Lithuania, Montenegro and Ukraine are the only European countries with a rewards program, and none of them have made any payments to whistleblowers. According to the Center, “financial compensation will encourage more people to report misconduct and create more success in fighting corruption by including monetary rewards in their new national laws. Compensating people for taking the risk to become a whistleblower is exactly what is needed to engender a citizen-based crime-fighting culture in Europe.”
In addition to these campaigns and others, the Center provides direct support to whistleblowers. The Center offers a “Europe-wide network of attorneys, advocates and journalists” who can advise and support whistleblowers through every step of making a safe and confidential disclosure. Furthermore, the Center will investigate whistleblower reports and fight to protect whistleblowers from retaliation. All these services are confidential and free-of-charge.
According to the press release, “the Center is co-led by Mark Worth, Executive Director of Whistleblowing International, and John Kostyack, Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center. A close partner is the Southeast Europe Coalition on Whistleblower Protection.”