[April 2023] State of whistleblowing: laws in Poland, Italy, Germany, Czechia, Luxembourg, Slovakia, Estonia, & Spain

EU Member States continue to transpose the EU Whistleblower Directive into national law, but several are now the focus of an ongoing legal proceeding initiated by the European Commission. The EU recently issued fines to several countries, including Germany, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Spain, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, and Hungary. The members of the European Union are also being sued for failing to implement the EU whistleblower Directive.

Poland whistleblowing directive

In Poland, lawmakers are now dealing with a referral to the European Court of Justice, along with other States that have been lagging in the transposition of the Directive. The lack of progress may be due to the anti-EU nationalist government running the country since 2015. The EU previously suspended funding for Poland after ruling its judicial reforms illegal and lacking guarantees of impartiality and independence.

Italy whistleblower directive

On March 9th, 2023, Italy finally transposed the EU Whistleblowing Directive that will require companies to have internal reporting channels and protect those who disclose misconduct from retaliation. The Italian Council enacted the Italian Whistleblowing Law (Decree no. 24/2023) and managed to align their national rules with that of the European Union.

Czech Republic whistleblowing law

In Czechia, Radio Prague International reported that the EC has issued a fine of CZK million, claiming that it has not complied with the Directive and transposed it into its national legal system.

Luxembourg whistleblowing law

In Luxembourg where lawmakers continue to struggle with implementing the new Directive, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in favour of a former PwC employee who leaked data in 2016 in the Lux Leaks case. The court overturned a previous conviction for Antoine Deltour, who shared information about widescale tax evasion.

Slovakia whistleblowing directive

Slovakia has had little to no progress since it approved a draft law on whistleblowing in November of 2022. The proposed rules were expected to come into force in January 2023 but have been met with delays. The overlap of whistleblower rules and leniency programs that allows firms to disclose information in exchange for leniency on penalties is seen as controversial by some legal experts who would like it to be used as complementary.

Whistleblowing in Germany

Meanwhile, Germany has made progress with its whistleblower protection law. On 17 March 2023, the Parliament introduced two new draft bills that would transpose the EU Directive. The draft law is still in the early stages of being adopted.

Estonia whistleblowing directive

Estonia is prepared to pay any fines that result from the EC referral. The draft law its government approved in January 2022 has faced over 300 proposed amendments and lawmakers are expecting more delays in the approval process.

Spain whistleblower protection law

Spain (like Italy) has finally managed to adopt its new whistleblowing law despite missing the deadline. The legislation entered into force on March 13th, 2023, according to Spain’s official state Gazette. Spain’s new whistleblowing law (Law 2/2023) replaces local rules passed by regional parliaments.

After its introduction in 2019, many countries were slow to transpose the new whistleblower rules, leading to a lack of progress with their implementation. Federal governments have, in some cases, had difficulty agreeing on how to adopt the new EU regime. The action taken by the European Commission could help move the needle and introduce much-needed protection for people who report breaches of EU rules. More Member States could have fines imposed if they don’t make progress.