The New EU Whistleblower Directive: The 27 member-states of the European Union must adopt new whistleblower laws by December 17, 2021. Each member-state is now separately debating how to implement whistleblower protections under its own laws.

“It is absolutely essential that the EU whistleblower directive follows the precedents set by U.S. law.”

Stephen Kohn, Founding Partner

International whistleblower law firm Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto, LLP has long supported enhanced whistleblower protections in Europe. While the scope of the EU Directive was under debate within the European Parliament, KKC submitted a comprehensive proposal for the Directive. A KKC partner testified in the EU Parliament regarding the need to protect European employees who reported financial crimes to directly to law enforcement agencies.

Currently, KKC is taking the lead in promoting that all 27 member-states of the EU implement aggressive whistleblower protections. KKC drafted a 27-page memo addressing all of the major issues facing whistleblowers and provided specific recommendations for legislative action. This proposal has been officially filed with all EU member-states.

Additionally, KKC partners helped draft a follow-up submission to EU nations urging them to include climate-related crimes and frauds to the definition of a protected disclosure under the law.

KKC has also joined in a coalition of advocacy groups working to ensure that Europe finally enacts laws that will work in practice and provide, for the first time, real whistleblower protections to the people in Europe. Among the groups we are now working with include the National Whistleblower Center, Whistleblowing International, and the European Center for Whistleblower Rights.

KKC has also participated in conferences and other public meetings related to the Directive, including a major international conference.

Because the Directive sets forth the “common minimum standards” for whistleblower protection required by each European Union (“EU”) Member State, implementation of the Directive creates a unique opportunity for Member States to extend protections beyond these minimum standards. KKC will continue to aggressively participate in the international movement within Europe and other nations to promote laws that create robust whistleblower programs that protect whistleblowers, incentivize the reporting of crimes or regulatory violations, and enable law enforcement agencies to effectively combat corruption.

Because the Directive sets forth the “common minimum standards” for whistleblower protection required by each European Union (“EU”) Member State, the Directive plainly permits Member States to extend protections beyond these minimum standards. Therefore, when implementing the Directive each Member State has an opportunity to create robust whistleblower programs that protect whistleblowers, incentivize the reporting of crimes or regulatory violations, and enable law enforcement agencies to effectively combat corruption.

In essence, Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto, LLP’s recommended best practices include:

  • Expanding whistleblower protections to cover disclosures permitted under international anti-corruption conventions signed by Member States;

  • Adopting language and procedures that have proven effective in protecting whistleblowers when implementing Articles 6-7, 11, 14-16, 19-21, and 23-24 of the Directive;

  • Narrowly interpreting Article 22 of the Directive in order to ensure that whistleblowers are not chilled from making disclosures and their confidentiality is maintained; and

  • Enacting whistleblower reward laws to combat specific legal violations, including foreign bribery, money laundering, tax evasion, government procurement fraud, and ocean pollution.

Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto’s 29-page comment going over, in detail, what the EU nations need to include in order to enact successful whistleblower laws.

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