Anti-fraud signs the NEIWA Brussels Declaration with recommendations for the transposition of the European Directive for the protection of whistleblowers

The Anti-Fraud Office of Catalonia is a member of the Network of European Integrity and Whistleblowing Authorities - NEIWA

NEIWA members make a series of recommendations to governments, administrations and other stakeholders involved in the implementation of the Directive.

European Parliament. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
European Parliament. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

17 December 2020. The Anti-Fraud Office of Catalonia, together with 18 other organizations that are part of NEIWA, sign the Brussels Declaration of December 14 2020 with recommendations for the transposition of Directive (EU) 2019/1937 of the European Parliament and of the Council of October 23, 2019 on the protection of persons who report breaches of European Union law. The institutions that sign the declaration met virtually on December 3 and 4, continuing the meetings in The Hague (May 2019), Paris (December 2019) and Rome (June ​​2020).

NEIWA, currently represented by 21 Member States, was created in May 2019 in order to provide a platform for cooperation and for the exchange of knowledge and experiences in the field of integrity and alertness. It is currently focusing its efforts on the transposition of the European Directive for the protection of whistleblowers that EU member states must carry out before December 17, 2021, one year from today.

The members of NEIWA, in the framework of the desire to share best practices, recommend the following points to governments, administrations and other interlocutors involved in the implementation of the Directive:

1. Urgently initiate or accelerate the transposition process to meet the Directive transposition deadline of 17 December 2021.

2. Extend the material scope of the Directive as wide as possible in relevant areas and policies under national law as provided by Article 2 (2) of the Directive, when there is a risk that breaches of these laws may cause serious harm to the public interest and to the welfare of society and harmonize as much as possible the national existing legal frameworks.

3. Seize the opportunity to build an integrated national reporting system where internal reporting channels and external competent authorities, while operating autonomously according to their respective territorial or material competences, coordinate among themselves to ensure an effective and coherent reporting mechanism.

4. Ensure that the appointed external channels do present sufficient guarantees of organizational independence and necessary autonomy from the government and that they are properly resourced and have the capacity to fulfill their missions.

5. Provide that reporting persons can resort to a competent channel to intervene as a last resort in case no other appointed authority is competent or has not given proper follow-up of the report.

6. Ensure that at least the reporting persons benefit from an effective legal, psychological and financial support when reporting, regardless of their personal or financial situation. These services could be provided by governmental or non-governmental organizations or other professional associations with the necessary funding, expertise and independence.

7. Provide for sanctions against legal or natural persons acting in a way that discourages reports to be filed, retaliating and/or undermining the protection of reporting persons. In doing so, Member States should consider a wide range of sanctions (administrative, civil and criminal) that could be applied in combination to ensure that they are effective and dissuasive. Member States will bear the responsibility to ensure that any kind of sanctioning does not solely rely on the reporting person acting individually, as it is a responsibility of the whole society.

8. When providing for penalties for knowingly reporting false information, make sure that sanctions are made applicable only when the person did so intentionally and in order to avoid dissuading others to file a report.