Europe marks a new stage in protecting whistleblowers. With a vast majority, in April 2019 the European Parliament (EP) voted positively on the Directive protecting whistleblowers that for the first time offers leading legal standards across the European Union (EU). In the same month, the Council of Europe (CoE) adopted a Resolution on the local and regional protection of whistleblowers. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has also judged in favour of whistleblowers in a number of cases as part of defending freedom of expression. Whilst civil society and progressive legislators have been calling for protection of whistleblowers in Europe for over a decade, many national governments were not in favour of opening channels of disclosure for insiders. At the same time, key information on abuses of power and corruption only became available to the public due to whistleblowers in light of the erosion of rule of law and the weakening of traditional accountability checks in many European states. Whistleblowing received more positive public attention, which in turn yielded support for establishing legal protections. This contribution maps these developments, the current EU legislative framework as well as the ECtHR case law. Whilst the contribution acknowledges the significance of whistleblowing in invigorating the rule of law in Europe, it argues that its effectiveness is essentially contingent upon the proper functioning of institutional accountability and the solidity of freedom of press at the national level.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication European Yearbook on Human Rights 2019
EditorsP. Czech, L. Heschl, K. Lukas, M. Nowak, G. Oberleitner
Place of PublicationCambridge/Antwerp/Chicago
ISBN (Print)978-17-8068-854-1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019

Cite this