European Union: Whistleblower Protection Increase: The Contribution Of New Legislation And Software Solutions

Last Updated: 21 February 2019
Article by Jan Stappers
Most Read Contributor in Sweden, July 2019

Whistleblower protection is an important requirement to reveal and prevent wrongdoing. Cambridge Analytica. Panama Papers. Luxleaks. Scandals caused by a lack of transparency show that whistleblowers can play an important role in uncovering activities that damage the "public interest and the welfare of our citizens and society." This is how the European Commission explains the reasoning behind its proposal for new standards to protect whistleblowers and enhance whistleblower protection.

Brave whistleblowers are increasingly being celebrated. Those who step up to fight against misconduct and unethical behaviour, such as sexual harassment during the #metoo campaign, are having a significant impact on changing behaviour all over the world. Names like Antoine Deltour, Chris Wylie and Sherron Watkins have become widely known and will be long remembered as whistleblower heroes.

Whistleblower protection: challenges and opportunities

Whistleblower protection is essential, as misconduct is all too often not identified internally, and instead ends up being exposed in the public domain, wreaking havoc on an organisation's reputation. But why? The main reason is that most people are reluctant to speak up within their organisation. Fear of retaliation and inaccessibility to the right people who need to know about misconduct are major factors that keep people silent within companies and governmental authorities. Another reason is reluctance to encourage internal reporting on the part of the organisation's management, for fear of people reporting in bad faith. Nevertheless, not even fear can prevent leakage of information about wrongdoings.
That's why offering a safe space for employees or other stakeholders to speak up about a conflict of interest, or other wrongdoings, is a vital part of any organisation's long term strategy. As shown by research into the benefits of a transparent business climate, whistleblowing plays an important role, as does whistleblower protection.

Organisational whistleblowing substantiated: the numbers

In 2017 the European Commission issued the report "Estimating the economic benefits of whistleblower protection in public procurement". The report states that there is a strong economic case for whistleblower protection. In all of the countries studied, the potential gains from recovering misused public funds was found to exceed the costs of setting up and maintaining such systems in the area of public procurement alone. As an example, in Ireland, the potential benefits were valued at about 2 times the costs involved, while in Romania potential benefits were valued to exceed the costs of setting up a suitable infrastructure 300 to 500 times.

According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners' 2018 Report to the Nations – Global Study on Occupational Fraud and Abuse, organisations lose an average of 5 per cent of their annual revenue to fraud each year. And a secure whistleblowing system is the optimal solution for preventing wrongdoings: the same report states that fraud losses were 50% smaller at organisations with whistleblowing hotlines than those without a whistleblower hotline. We are seeing that such whistleblowing solutions increasingly consist of an online whistleblowing system, rather than the traditional telephone hotline.

Proposed legislation to protect whistleblowers

While more and more organisations are moving to facilitate whistleblowing and protect whistleblowers from retaliation, the main driver for change is legislation. At the end of April 2018, the European Commission proposed new EU-wide standards aimed at increasing whistleblower protection. The EC's proposal includes an obligation for organisations to implement safe channels for internal reporting. Companies with more than 50 employees or with an annual turnover of over EUR 10 million will have to set up an internal procedure to handle whistleblower reports. All state and regional administrations and municipalities with over 10,000 inhabitants will also be covered by the new proposal. (Read our previous post for a more extensive analysis of the proposed Whistleblower Protection Directive.) Additionally, the European Parliament Committee on Legal Affairs' draft report on the proposal for the Whistleblower Protection Directive states that "arrangements for anonymous reporting or disclosure shall be in place and anonymous reporting or disclosure shall not be prohibited." This is good news in our opinion.

Whistleblower protection and the role of organisational whistleblowing systems

We believe that to establish a trustworthy whistleblowing system, any organisation needs to make sure that:

  • the system is easy to use and the whistleblower can choose to be anonymous;
  • the highest possible data privacy level is applied to protect sensitive information and personal data (GDPR compliance);
  • the case handling organisation and process is clearly defined and necessary external expertise is used;
  • the system and all processes are compliant with the GDPR and other applicable laws;
  • the system is well communicated and implemented.

Please see our dedicated article with top tips on whistleblowing for more information on best practices of organisational whistleblowing.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Events from this Firm
21 Aug 2019, Webinar, Stockholm, Sweden

EU:s direktiv kan ses som ett svar på en global mega-trend för främjande av transparens. Vilka krav ställer den nya lagen? Och vad är avgörande för en trovärdig hantering av visselblåsarärenden?

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions