Wednesday

22nd May 2019

Green MEPs launch EUleaks

  • Green MEPs don't want to wait for an EU framework on protection of whistleblowers. (Photo: Green group in the European Parliament)

Green MEPs have set up a platform granting whistleblowers anonymity in the lack of an EU framework to protect such sources.

”It’s abundantly clear that if we want to make progress in the field of tax justice, environmental and public health protection, democracy and good administration, we need transparency,” Belgian Green deputy Philippe Lamberts told journalists on Tuesday.

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  • (Photo: Green group in the European Parliament)

The platform, known as EUleaks, is open to tips on wrongdoing in areas covered by EU law.

Instructions for how to access the channel through Tor can be found on the group’s website .

MEPs said Tor, a secured network, will guarantee that whistleblowers stay anonymous.

The rights of sources are otherwise dire in many parts of the EU.

LuxLeaks

One case regards two former auditors who exposed dubious deals between large companies and tax authorities in Luxembourg, depriving fellow EU treasuries of billions of euros in lost revenue.

The revelations had the EU step up its work against tax avoidance.

But the leakers were sentenced by Luxembourgish authorities. After their appeal, more charges were opened against them.

The Green group in May unveiled a proposal for whistleblower protection, hoping it would inspire the European Commission to follow.

“Jean-Claude Juncker has a personal responsibility to act,” German Green MEP Sven Giegold said on Tuesday, referring to the commission’s president, who was for many years Luxembourg’s prime minister and finance minister.

But the MEP added it was unlikely the commission would deliver.

Under EUleaks, responsibility for publishing materials would fall upon MEPs, who are protected by parliamentary immunity.

The group - one of the parliament’s smallest - said it was unwilling to let MEPs from other factions join the project, because it wanted EUleaks to be used for pro-European purposes.

“We want to make Europe greener, democratic, social, effective. Our promise to whistleblowers is that we will use the information in a way that promotes the EU project,” said Lamberts.

He said eurosceptic MEPs might want to use the new instrument to harm the EU’s reputation.

But he also criticised the EU “mainstream”, which he said “had vested interests” and which “doesn’t want its own shortcomings published”.

Leading by example

Lamberts said the Green group already “receives lots of leaks” and that "we share this information with some journalists."

He said EUleaks would not be competing with the press.

Asked why whistleblowers would turn to a political group rather than the media, Giegold said Green MEPs could use information they received to put pressure on EU institutions in their political work.

He also said MEPs would share the information with journalists and civil society if the leaker agreed.

The Greens vowed to stay neutral and not filter information.

When asked what they would do in case of sensitive documents, for instance information that could be incriminating for fellow MEPs or EU officials and politicians, they said they would stick to EU rules of conduct.

"This is not about political exploitation but about defending the public interest," Lamberts said.

”I would love if the European Parliament had come up with this initiative,” he said, ”but it was unlikely to happen. We want to lead by example.”

Ethics drive at EU parliament hits a wall

Plans to increase transparency at the European Parliament have been postponed, in a move likely to result in weaker proposals when it goes to a vote.

EU trade law could criminalise whistleblowers

A new directive passed by the European Parliament Thursday to protect European companies from corporate espionage could lead to preventing information on business wrongdoings, critics argue.

EU commission presents 'realistic' lobbying rules

The EU executive called for more stringent regulation of interest representatives trying to influence EU decision making. Critics say the 'transparency revolution' is being blocked by the European Parliament and EU member states.

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