Whistleblower law across Europe - country list

Whistleblower law across Europe - country list

Agata Malik-Bosak |

All the European Union member states are required to implement the EU law on whistleblower protection at the national level by means of an appropriate legal act.

Whistleblower law implementation is issued by the Directive (EU) 2019/1937 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2019 on the protection of persons who report breaches of Union law.

Although many countries already had their national whistleblowing acts in force before 2019, they must adjust them to the Directive scope anyway to reach the EU standards.

According to Article 26 of the Directive, the deadline for the entry into force of national laws, regulations, and administrative provisions necessary to comply with the Directive expired on December 17, 2021, for companies with more than 250 employees. Only for private sector enterprises with 50 to 249 employees, this deadline has been extended to December 17, 2023.

The status of whistleblower legislation in individual EU countries is presented below. Only eight member states adopted the legislation before the deadline requested by the EU.

🇦🇹 Austria

The whistleblowing law was adopted in Austria on 1 February 2023 and came into force on 24 February 2023.

The legislation can be found at HinweisgeberInnenschutzgesetz - HSchG; Gesetz über das Bundesamt zur Korruptionsprävention und Korruptionsbekämpfung, Beamten-Dienstrechtsgesetz u.a. Änderung (3087/A).

Companies and legal entities in the public sector are granted six months to implement an internal whistleblower system. This period runs from the entry into force of the law.

Federal Bureau of Anti-Corruption (Bundesamt zur Korruptionsprävention und Korruptionsbekämpfung, BAK) was appointed as an external reporting office.

🇧🇪 Belgium

New federal and regional whistleblowing rules were introduced in Belgium on 15 December 2022.

Whistleblower legislation Loi sur la protection des personnes qui signalent des violations au droit de l'Union ou au droit national constatées au sein d'une entité juridique du secteur privé entered into force on 15 February 2023.

Additional decrees have been adopted to cover the regions of Wallonia, Flemish, German, and French-speaking communities.

🇧🇬 Bulgaria

The National Assembly of Parliament in Bulgaria adopted the Whistleblowing legislation on 27 January 2023.

закон за защита на лицата, подаващи сигнали или публично оповестяващи информация за нарушения was published in State Gazett on 2 February 2023 and entered into force on 2 May 2023.

Attempts were made to pass a national law earlier, in December 2022. The currently adopted legislation aims to transpose the minimum standard requirements of the EU Whistleblowing Directive. Bulgaria is aware that it needs to be analyzed whether the new Bulgarian legislation complies with the standards of the Directive.

🇭🇷 Croatia

O Proglašenju Zakona O Zašiti Prijavitelja Nepravilnosti was adopted by Croatia on 15 April and entered into force on 23 April 2022.

The new law brought the Croatian framework in line with the standard required by the Directive; however, Croatia already had a whistleblowing law since 2019.

Under the new Act, anonymous whistleblowing is typically not acknowledged since the required details in the report must contain information about the individual submitting it.

Nonetheless, there is a deviation from this norm. If an unidentified report fulfills all the prerequisites specified by the new Act to qualify for whistleblower protection, and the whistleblower's identity is subsequently ascertained during the process, they will be granted the same protection as those who have revealed their identity.

🇨🇾 Cyprus

Although having a whistleblowers protection framework since 2016, on 20 January 2022 Cyprus introduced the transposition law. O περι τησ προστασιασ προσωπων που αναφερουν παραβιασεισ του ενωσιακου και εθνικου δικαιου και αφορουν το δημοσιο συμφερον νομοσ was published on 4 February 2022.

🇨🇿 Czech Republic

Návrh zákona, kterým se mění některé zákony v souvislosti s přijetím zákona o ochraně oznamovatelů came into effect on 1 August 2023.

The whistleblower law was adopted in the Czech Republic on 1 June 2023 and signed by the President on 7 June 2023. The whole procedure started on 21 April 2023 when The Chamber of Deputies had approved a new whistleblower law from 4 April 2023

The Czech Republic was significantly delayed in transposing the Directive, however during implementation of Czech law, there were still two Member States without their national regulations.

🇩🇰 Denmark

Denmark implemented whistleblowing law as the first EU Member State. Moreover, the act expands the Directive's minimum standards by securing reports concerning significant misconduct and infringements of both national and EU Law.

Lov om beskyttelse af whistleblowere was adopted on 24 June 2021 and entered into force on 17 December 2021.

🇪🇪 Estonia

The whistleblower law is now in progress in Parliament of Estonia, after being approved by the Government in August 2023. It is expected that the act - Rikkumisest teavitaja kaitse seaduse - eelnõu - will enter into force as a law on  1 January 2024.

From its first reading on 26 January 2022, the project was blocked as many amendments were proposed to be considered. That is why the European Commission decided to refer Estonia to the European Court of Justice for failure to transpose and notify national measures for transposing the EU Directive on Whistleblowing. Estonia may have to pay the fine for being delayed with the transposition. Legal basis Case C-154/23 was brought on 14 March 2023.

🇫🇮 Finland

Finnish whistleblower regulation Laki Euroopan unionin ja kansallisen oikeuden rikkomisesta ilmoittavien henkilöiden suojelusta dated 20 December 2022 is already in force since 1 January 2023.

The internal reporting channel was implemented within three months of the law coming into force.

🇫🇷 France

France adopted the whistleblowing law on 16 February 2022. LOI no 2022-401 du 21 mars 2022 visant à améliorer la protection des lanceurs d’alerte came into force on 1 September 2022. Previous Law No. 2016-1691 of 9 December 2016 on Transparency, the Fight against Corruption and the Modernisation of Economic Life ('Sapin II') was therefore replaced.

The new French act was evaluated as the most ambitious transposition in the European Union“ which “goes further than the minimal standard set by the Directive to include international best practices”.

Additionally, France has passed two decrees supporting the new whistleblowing law. The first one Décret relatif aux procédures de recueil et de traitement des signalements émis par les lanceurs d'alerte et fixant la liste des autorités externes instituées par la loi n° 2022-401 specifies organizational details of the implemented law. The second decree Décret n° 2022-1686 du 28 décembre 2022 relatif à l'abondement du compte personnel de formation d'un salarié lanceur d'alerte is related to financial support of whistleblowers. They were published in October 2022 and December 2022, respectively.

🇩🇪 Germany

The German Whistleblower Protection Act (HinSchG) was approved by the Bundesrat on 12 May 2023 and adopted on 2 July 2023.

“The Whistleblower Protection Act represents a milestone for whistleblower protection in Germany and an improvement on the precarious status quo. However, it misses the goal of comprehensively strengthening the rights of whistleblowers in some places. It also does not do justice to the importance of whistleblowing for journalism and thus for public discourse," says Kosmas Zittel, Managing Director of the Whistleblower-Netzwerk.

The whistleblower law was significantly delayed in Germany. Although the national approach to the whistleblowing directive was initiated and the proposed draft Entwurf eines Gesetzes für einen besseren Schutz hinweisgebender was processed, the law was eventually rejected on February 2023. After that, two amendments to the law were published:  Entwurf eines Gesetzes zur Ergänzung der Regelungen zum Hinweisgeberschutz 20/5991 and Entwurf eines Gesetzes zur Ergänzung der Regelungen zum Hinweisgeberschutz 20/5992.

The European Commission decided to refer Germany to the European Court of Justice for failure to transpose and notify national measures for transposing the EU Directive on Whistleblowing. Based on the Action brought on 14 March 2023 - European Commission - Federal Republic of Germany, Case C-149/23, Germany may have to pay the fine for being delayed with the transposition. The Commission claims that the measures for the complete transposition of the directive have not yet been adopted and have not been communicated to the Commission more than 13 months following the expiry of the transposition period.

On May 9, 2023, representatives of the Bundestag and the Bundesrat agreed on changes to the whistleblower protection act. The compromise includes, in particular, changes regarding the channels for reporting anonymous information, fines, and the scope of the law. The proposed deal was accepted by the Bundestag and approved by the Bundesrat.

🇬🇷 Greece

In Greece Law 4990/2022 (Προστασία προσώπων που αναφέρουν παραβιάσεις ενωσιακού δικαίου - Ενσωμάτωση της Οδηγίας (ΕΕ) 2019/1937 του Ευρωπαϊκού Κοινοβουλίου και του Συμβουλίου της 23ης Οκτωβρίου 2019 (L 305) και λοιπές επείγουσες ρυθμίσεις) was adopted on 15 November 2022.

The law was evaluated by Greek journalist Nikolas Leontopoulos as “a weak law that falls short of real, extensive, and inclusive protection for whistleblowers".

The deadline to complete the law in the organizations was 11 May 2023.

🇭🇺 Hungary

The law adoption process was finalized in Hungary on 26 May 2023. Proposal Nr. 3089 (Törvényjavaslat címe: A panaszokról, a közérdekű bejelentésekről, valamint a visszaélések bejelentésével összefüggő szabályokról) was submitted to the Parliament on 28 February 2023, after the European Commission decided to refer Hungary to the European Court of Justice for failure to transpose and notify national measures for transposing the EU Directive on Whistleblowing.

Before the law's adoption, Hungary remained the only member state that did not start transposition. As a result, Case C-155/23, European Commission - Hungary, was brought on 14 March 2023.

🇮🇪 Ireland

Protected Disclosures (Amendment) Bill 2022 was adopted in Ireland on 21 July 2022 and came into force on 1 January 2023.

Additionally, an interim guidance for public sector employees and prescribed persons on the handling of reports made to them under the legal framework on whistleblowing was published by the Irish Government.

🇮🇹 Italy

Although delayed and accompanied by European Commission infringement proceedings, Decreto Legislativo 10 March 2023, n. 24 was approved in Italy on 9 March and published in the Gazzetta Ufficiale on 15 March 2023. The law has been in force since 15 July 2023.

To that day, the previous one Whistleblowing Protection legislation from 2017 applied.

🇱🇻 Latvia

In Latvia Trauksmes celšanas likums was adopted on 20 January 2022 and entered into force on 4 February 2022.

With the entry into force of this law, the previous whistleblowing law Latvijas Vēstnesis, 2018, nr 210; 2020, nr 29 loses its force.

🇱🇹 Lithuania

Pranešėjų Apsaugos Įstatymas was adopted in Lithuania on 16 December 2021 and entered into force on 15 February 2022.

On 27 January 2022, the European Commission issued a formal notice to Lithuania titled Partial transposition of Directive (EU) 2019/1937 on the protection of persons who report breaches of Union law, by Lithuania. This is the legal action by the European Union taken against member states for failing to implement EU law. These infringement proceedings against Lithuania began for failing to fully transpose the EU Directive on Whistleblowing.

🇱🇺 Luxembourg

The Luxembourg national whistleblowing law Projet de loi 7945 was adopted on 16 May 2023. The government has decided to extend the scope of application of the directive to all national laws. Luxembourg will also run an Office for the Whistleblowers to support whistleblowers.

According to the new Luxembourgian law, the definition of whistleblower covers civil servants, shareholders, subcontractors, and those engaged in employment negotiations. It also includes anonymous whistleblowers whose identities have been disclosed. The law promotes the practice of whistleblowing through internal or external channels rather than resorting to public disclosure.

At the project stage, the law built upon certain basic requirements stipulated by the Directive, broadening the coverage beyond reports that solely pertain to violations of EU law; it was criticized by the Council of State. It is said that the proposed draft contains some unclear or poorly written points and some unnecessary ones simultaneously. Also, some details related to adequate civil servants' protection or storage period of personal data shall be specified.

Due to these objections, the Luxembourg transposition of the Directive was pending for too long. As a result, the European Commission brought the action against the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg on 13 March 2023 - Case C-150/23.

🇲🇹 Malta

Malta's previous whistleblower law the Protection of the Whistleblower Act, Cap. 527 from 2013 was amended by ATT sabiex jemenda l-Att dwar il-Protezzjoni ta’ Informatur, Nru. 249, dated 15 November 2021.

The amendment meets the EU requirements on whistleblowing. The short title of this Act is Protection of the Whistleblower (Amendment) Act, 2021 and this Act shall be read and construed as one with the Protection of the Whistleblower Act, so-called "the principal Act".

🇳🇱 Netherlands

Wijziging van de Wet Huis voor klokkenluiders en enige andere wetten was adopted in Netherlands on 24 January 2023. The law entered into force on 18 February 2023.

Therefore it replaced the previous Dutch legislation the “House for Whistleblowers Act” and updated the national whistleblowing procedures in the scope of reporting bodies, anonymous reporting, and external reporting channels.

🇵🇱 Poland

The transposition process is still pending in Poland. Ustawa o ochronie osób zgłaszających naruszenia prawa was referred to inter-ministerial consultations and opinions on April 2023. Initially published in October 2021, the project was updated a few times.

The last version from 12 July 2023 is the ninth one. None of the so far prepared proposals were forwarded to the Parliament.

Once approved, the act would be in force within two months.

Due to the implementation delay, on 10 March 2023, the European Commission brought the action - Case C-147/23 - against the Republic of Poland. Poland was fined with penalty payments which will be charged until the date on which the Republic of Poland fulfills its obligations under the directive.

🇵🇹 Portugal

In Portugal, Lei n.º 93/2021 was adopted on 26 November 2021, published on 20 December 2021, and entered into force 6 months later, on 18 June 2022.

🇷🇴 Romania

The law-adopting process in Romania was turbulent. The first acceptance of the EU directive transposition was in June 2022. However, the law was withdrawn and, after revisions, accepted again in December 2022 and proclaimed on 16 December 2022 as LEGE nr.361 privind protectia avertizorilor în interes public.

On 28 March 2023, Decree No. 167/2023, i.e. the amendment to Article 6(2) of Law No. 361/2022, was promulgated. It entered into effect as of its publication in the Official Gazette.

🇸🇰 Slovakia

The directive transposition in Slovakia is adopted. Návrh zákona (1299), ktorým sa mení a dopĺňa zákon č. 54/2019 entered into force on 1 April 2023, except for Art. I points 17, 18, 25, 26, 40, 41 and 44, which entered into force on 1 September 2023.

The law amended the previous national whistleblowing act.

🇸🇮 Slovenia

Slovenian Zakon O Zaščiti Prijaviteljev (ZZPri) was adopted and entered into force on 22 February 2023.

Nevertheless, as the transposition process was delayed, the European Commission began infringement proceedings against Slovenia for failing to fully transpose the EU Directive on Whistleblowing on 27 January 2022.

🇪🇸 Spain

Ley 2/2023 reguladora de la protección de las personas que informen sobre infracciones normativas y de lucha contra la corrupción was adopted in Spain on 20 February 2023 and entered into force on 13 March 2023, 20 days from its publication in “Boletín Oficial del Estado”.

Like many other member states, Spain was referred to the European Court of Justice for failure to transpose and notify national measures for transposing the EU Directive on Whistleblowing on time.

🇸🇪 Sweden

Lag (2021:890) om skydd för personer som rapporterar om missförhållanden was adopted in Sweden on 29 September 2021 and entered into force on 17 December 2021.

The provisions in Article 5 (Internal reporting channels and reporting and follow-up procedures) apply for the first time on 17 December 2023 (EU typical deadline) for operators who run a private business and who have 50 to 249 employees, and on 17 July 2022 for other operators.

The new whistleblowing law repeals the Act (2016:749) on special protection against reprisals for employees who raise the alarm about serious misconduct.

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