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29 September 20215 minute read

Whistleblowing Laws in Europe: An international guide

Updated in March 2023

0 EU Member States have taken no or minimal implementation action
7 EU Member States are in the process of legislating for implementation of the Directive
20 EU Member States have passed implementing legislation


In recent years it has become more and more clear that whistleblowing protection is the ultimate line of defence for safeguarding the public interest. On October 23, 2019, the EU formally adopted the new EU Whistleblower Protection Directive (the Directive) to enhance protection for whistleblowers within the EU. The Directive is designed to provide common minimum standards across the Union and requires Member States to transpose it into national law by December 17, 2021. This multijurisdictional guide: sets out an overview of the Directive, focusing on the key points to be aware of; explains the current status of whistleblowing legislation in a broad range of countries across the EU as it stands today; and provides a tracker that will keep you updated on the transposition of the Directive into national law.

Indeed, as shown by recent scandals such as Cambridge Analytica, the Panama and Paradise Papers, and LuxLeaks, whistleblowers play a key role in exposing wrongdoing. Moreover, from a corporate point of view, the virtuous management of whistleblowing procedures contributes not only to identifying and combating possible offences and spreading the culture of ethics and legality within organisations, but also to creating within a company a climate of transparency and a sense of participation and belonging, generated by overcoming employees’ fear of retaliation by corporate bodies or colleagues, or the risk of seeing their report unheeded.

At present the existence and application of whistleblowing legislation across EU Member States is inconsistent. Once transposed into national law, the common minimum standards introduced by the new Directive should make this area easier to navigate. Companies operating in European countries will be required to adopt new or enhance existing procedures to comply with the new requirements set forth by the Directive. In the meantime the position for businesses is less straightforward. This guide aims to arm corporate entities with the information they need to navigate whistleblowing legislation in the current transitionary environment and to keep them updated as the Directive makes its way into national law.

The guide gives an overview of whistleblowing legislation in a broad range of countries across the EU. It provides a comprehensive starting point for business operating on a global scale in understanding the various legislative regimes to which they are currently subject, and in doing so, allows them to consider the changes that they will have to implement to comply with the new framework provided for by the Directive.

If you have any questions or would like further information in relation to whistleblowing or associated issues in any given jurisdiction, please contact the authors listed within each country chapter.

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