The Whistleblower Directive (2019/1937) was adopted on 23 October 2019. It provides individuals reporting breaches of EU law with enhanced protection and requires organisations to implement internal reporting channels for whistleblowing among other provisions. Member states were given the usual two years to implement its provisions into national law and the deadline to do so fell on 17 December 2021.
To date, although most member states have begun the process of updating their whistleblowing laws to give effect to the Directive, few have all the necessary final legislation in force.
As a result, the European Commission has taken the first step in starting enforcement proceedings against the member states that are lagging behind, or that have only partially implemented the Directive’s provisions. On 27 January 2022, the Commission sent letters of formal notice 24 member states: Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechia, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, Spain, France, Croatia, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary, Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Finland. On 8 February it also sent formal notice letters to Portugal and Sweden. Both of these countries have implemented the Directive, but some provisions in Sweden, and the whole legislative package in Portugal, will not enter take effect until later this year.
Once a member state has received a letter of formal notice, it has two months to rectify. The next step is a ‘reasoned opinion’, which is a formal request to comply with EU law within a stated deadline. If a member state still fails to comply, the Commission can take it to the European Court of Justice, though this is rare.
For country-by-country information on the current state of implementation of the Whistleblower Directive across the EU, you can consult our interactive map, here.