The turbulent process of taking power in Poland after the autumn parliamentary elections in 2023, in which the United Right, which has been in power for 8 years, lost its majority, raises questions regarding, among others, issues related to Poland's delay in implementing whistleblower protection regulations.
Whistleblower protection in Poland – why is it important?
In accordance with the legislative principles in force in the European Union, each member state is obliged to implement the regulations resulting from the adopted EU directives. Directive (EU) 2019/1937 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2019 on the protection of persons reporting breaches of Union law requires Member States to adopt provisions that provide protection to persons reporting breaches of law and, at the same time, oblige employers to adopt regulations and implement procedures aimed at enabling whistleblowers to report.
The provisions on the protection of whistleblowers are part of a broader policy of preventing and combating corruption, both at the national and EU level.
The PiS government and the delay in the implementation of the directive
More than 2 years have passed since the appearance of the Polish act's first draft implementing the whistleblower protection provisions, and the current version of the draft comes from the beginning of the year. The regulations were to be implemented by December 17, 2021, but this deadline was postponed to December 17, 2023, for certain groups of enterprises.
The whistleblower directive is not the only one that Poland has not implemented on time, but in the context of the recent parliamentary elections, the question arises whether the delay, in this case, is accidental or a deliberate action of the party in power since 2015.
Intentional delay theory: A safeguard against a wave of denunciations?
The PiS government, facing the prospect of losing the elections, could have anticipated an increase in the number of reports of abuses and irregularities, especially if whistleblowers were protected by new regulations. So, was the delay in implementing the directive a strategic move to protect against potential denunciations?
In the context of the last 8 years of PiS rule, there have been numerous cases of controversy and allegations of abuse. The possibility that whistleblowers, protected by new laws, could reveal more information about these abuses may have been a concern for those in power.
Delaying the implementation of the whistleblower protection provisions could, therefore, be an attempt to protect against a potential wave of denunciations that could incriminate former government members.
Also, considering the fact that the new regulations extend the protection of whistleblowers not only to violations of EU law but also to national law, the scope of potential reports could be much broader.
This could result in more issues that the PiS government would have to address, perhaps in a less favorable light. In such a situation, delaying the implementation of the regulations could be seen as a tactical political move.