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Right to blow whistle on tax dodging in EU recognized
Today, the European Commission proposed legislation that recognises the rights and importance of all whistleblowers in the EU, including those reporting on tax malpractices. The EU-wide directive will create a minimum standard to protect whistleblowers throughout all member states, providing safe channels for them to report to their organisation and to the media.
Recent scandals have clearly shown the essential role whistleblowers play in holding wrongdoers to account, and enabling greater tax transparency. The world would never have discovered Lux Leaks if Antoine Deltour and Raphael Halet had not come forward. They should both have been protected, not embroiled in painful court cases. This directive is a step towards protecting, rather than prosecuting, those who put themselves at risk to achieve tax justice.
Oxfam’s Policy Advisor on Tax, Johan Langerock, said:
“This directive is a huge step forward for whistleblowers and investigative journalists. We welcome the protection mechanisms that will establish safe channels for them to report within and outside of their organisation. We believe it is the duty of the Parliament and Council to accept and strengthen this legislation. What we really need is tax transparency – but in the meantime, whistleblowers are our best bet to finding out the truth.”
- Antoine Deltour and Raphael Halet provided key information on the Lux leaks scandal, both stood trial and were found guilty for violating Luxembourg’s professional secrecy laws and for illegally accessing a database. Deltour was later acquitted by a Luxembourg court, but the guilty verdict against Halet was upheld.
- This proposal is relevant for key stakeholders like civil society organizations and investigative journalists, who use the information provided by whistleblowers. Just recently, two investigative journalists were brutally murdered in the European Union: Daphne Galizia in Malta, and Jan Kuciak in Slovakia.
- In the legislation, the European Commission proposes protection mechanisms that private organizations and public authorities will have to set up. The protection mechanism consists of (1) having clear reporting channels, within and outside of the organization, ensuring confidentiality and (2) a prevention of retaliation and effective protection of the whistleblower.
Caroline Jacobsson | Brussels | email@example.com | office +32 2 234 11 15