Saturday

18th Jan 2020

Seven out of nine EU bodies lack internal whistleblower rules

  • The European Parliament says it will soon adopt internal whistleblowing rules (Photo: European Union 2014)

The European Parliament and the Council, representing member states, have yet to update whistleblower rules despite obligations requiring them to do so.

The rules are meant to encourage staff to speak up if they witness serious misconduct or any other wrongdoings and then shield them from possible retaliation by colleagues and others.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

Only the European Commission and the European Court of Auditors have complied with the January 2014 obligation to have the revised rules put in place, said European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly on Monday (2 March).

“So far, only two of the nine institutions in question have adopted rules of the kind required,” noted the ombudsman.

O'Reilly last summer had launched an inquiry into which EU bodies had put in place new rules.

Her probe looked at the European Parliament, the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, the Court of Justice of the European Union, the European Court of Auditors, the European External Action Service, the European Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions, and the European Data Protection Supervisor.

The court of auditors has gone a step further by applying the same rules to people who don't directly work there such as contractors or companies involved in things like procurement.

The council, for its part, told this website last summer that it already draws on a 2004 EU staff regulation that allows officials to report possible illegal activities either within the institution or by informing the EU’s anti-fraud official, Olaf.

A letter sent to O’Reilly by the council’s general-secretariat last October said it had issued a “staff note” in 2006 on whistleblowing procedures.

But the new January obligation requires them, as well as all other institutions, to put in place an extra set of internal rules on how to handle complaints made by staff watchdogs.

A contact at the Council on Monday said that the draft internal decision setting up the new rules is being finalised and will be adopted shortly.

The European Parliament also says it is in the process of adopting the whistleblower rules and that a draft text is currently be reviewed by its legal services.

“The expectation is that they will very shortly enter into force,” Jaume Duch, the parliament’s spokesperson told this website in an email.

All nine of the bodies are required to set up the new rules.

O’Reilly, who revealed the inter-institutional discrepancy on Monday, said she was disappointed at the lack of progress by the remaining seven.

"The public needs to know that the EU institutions welcome whistleblowing and protect whistleblowers against retaliation to make sure that serious misconduct or wrongdoing in the EU administration are brought to light,” she said in a statement.

Guidelines, adopted by O’Reilly at her own institution last summer, include banning any form of retaliation against a whistleblower.

Interview

Cloud of mistrust over Malta's new government

Malta's new government does not look likely to turn it into a normal, law-abiding EU state any time soon, the son of slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia has said.

Belgium, France, UK in EU court surveillance blow

Although non-binding, a critical opinion from the EU's top court could mean laws in Belgium, France and the UK allowing for the indiscriminate bulk collection of people's data may have to be eventually amended to respect EU privacy rules.

MEPs slam UK for violating EU police database

EUobserver's revelations of how the UK violates and abuses an EU police database sparked heated debate in the European Parliament's civil liberties committee - as the European Commission refused to respond to questions given the confidentiality of the leaked document.

News in Brief

  1. 'No objection in principle' on Huawei cooperation, EU says
  2. French aircraft carrier goes to Middle East amid tensions
  3. EU suggests temporary ban on facial recognition
  4. EU industry cries foul on Chinese restrictions
  5. 'Devil in detail', EU warns on US-China trade deal
  6. Trump threatened EU-tariffs over Iran, Germany confirms
  7. EU trade commissioner warns UK of 'brinkmanship'
  8. Germany strikes coal phase-out deal

European politicians caught with Russian 'fake likes'

Politicians and political parties in Europe have had bots generate fake 'likes', views, and comments to boost their online popularity, in what has been described as outright voter manipulation.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us