POLITICS & INSTITUTIONS - JUSTICE

EU directive 

Whistleblower protection directive nears deadline



Luxembourg plans on applying the EU directive on the protection of whistleblowers across all national law. But will it meet the deadline?  Photo: Shutterstock

Luxembourg plans on applying the EU directive on the protection of whistleblowers across all national law. But will it meet the deadline?  Photo: Shutterstock

In November 2019, the European Union put out a directive on the protection of people who “report breaches of Union law”, otherwise known as whistle-blowers. The grand duchy and other member states have until 17 December to apply it and vote on the legislation.

“To date, Luxembourg has not taken any steps, has not tabled any draft law and has not undertaken any parliamentary work on the transposition of this directive into national law. No project, no tangible progress!” said Jean-Jacques Bernard, head of StopCorrupt in a press release. “Such a delay demonstrates, in our opinion, the lack of political will of our government to effectively engage in the fight against corruption,” he added.

A harsh accusation that shows the anti-corruption NGO’s wish for a more efficient and faster treatment of EU directives.

Clear definitions and processes

The EU directive 2019/1937 among others asks to clearly define a whistleblower. Anyone who has worked with a certain business or organisation can be a whistleblower, it says. Companies will also have to make information concerning the procedure of whistleblowing available. In addition, the person’s identity must be protected during and after internal investigations concerning the reported misconduct.

Though countries like France were against skipping internal reports, Luxembourg favours it.

Following an internal report, it must be analysed and given feedback on within seven days. A failure to comply would allow the person to go public with their allegations. Retaliation--like it had been the case with LuxLeaks main source Antoine Deltour who was sentenced in court-- is prohibited, and protection of the whistleblowers and their entourage should be ensured.

Will Luxembourg meet the deadline?

In a September interview with Delano, justice minister Sam Tanson (Déi Gréng) had revealed that the horizontal transposition of the law--meaning Luxembourg wants to apply the directive across all national law-- was “in the final talks with other ministries.” When contacted last week, the ministry of justice remained vague on whether it would be able to meet the 17 December deadline.

“Luxembourg has therefore chosen to go much further than the directive. This approach has required longer consultations with all the ministries concerned, but is now being finalised,” a spokesperson told Delano.

Should Luxembourg not meet the deadline, it will receive a letter of notice by the European Commission. Failure to demonstrate within two months an intention to implement the directive into law would result in the case being transferred to the Court of Justice of the EU.

Luxembourg, as was revealed by foreign affairs minister Jean Asselborn (LSAP) in November, is already late on adopting 26 EU directives, with two cases--on the control of firearms appropriation and ownership, and the freezing and confiscation of proceeds of crime--being put in front of the Court of Justice of the EU.