France - Transposition of the EU Directive on Whistleblowing
The Ministry of Justice has announced a public consultation on the transposition of the EU Whistleblowing Directive. The Ministry has invited in particular, members or representatives of associations, NGOs, Unions and professional associations to respond with submissions on proposals to implement new French legislation. The consultation is open until March 21, 2021.
The French Ombuds institution - Le Défenseur des Droits - has delivered an opinion to Parliament on the implementation of improved legal protection of whistleblowers.
The Défenseur des Droits is the French ombudsman and a constitutional body assigned by law with the task of assisting whistleblowers. Newly appointed ‘Defender of Rights’ - Claire Hédon - presented the position paper which details several innovate provisions to ensure effective protection of whistleblowers, urging the legislature to seize the unique opportunity to reform the current framework under by the Sapin II law and significantly strengthen the rights of those who speak up in the public interest.
Whistleblowing NGO Maison des Lanceurs d'Alerte - the ‘house of the whistleblower’ - have called for a timely and progressive implementation of the EU Directive on Whistleblowing. An op-ed published in the French national newspaper Libération discusses the need for reform of the current legal framework (the Sapin II law) and sets out key policy recommendations where new legislation should go beyond the minimum standards required by the Directive and effectively protect whistleblowers in practice. Recommendations include an expansion of the scope of the Directive, which protects persons reporting breaches of EU Law, to include anyone disclosing information on wrongdoing in the public interest; a strengthening of the Defender of Rights ombuds institution; and, the creation of a financial support fund for whistleblowers.
An international online conference on Whistleblower Protection at Work in the Visegrad Group countries, France and Slovenia held by the University of Lodz took place on the 25 September 2020. Presentations were given by academics, public officials and civil society experts providing comparative analysis of the Directive and current national frameworks in France, Slovenia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia – see full programme here. This was the first planned “WhistlePro” conference aimed at improving whistleblower protections in the region and a second event is scheduled to take place in Prague in June 2021. You can watch a recording of the conference here.
The National Consultative Commission on Human Rights has published its review on the implementation of the EU Directive on Whistleblowing into French Law. The Commission Nationale Consultative des Droit de L’Homme. The CNCDH’s opinion states protection should be extended to cover whistleblowers who disclose breaches of national law as well as EU law. It also recommends that the new law goes beyond the minimum requirements of the Directive including protecting disclosure to trade unions, provision of financial and psychological support for whistleblowers and granting asylum to foreign national whistleblowers.
The French Ombudsperson – the Défenseur des Droits has called for a progressive transposition of the EU Directive on Whistleblowing which implements provisions which go beyond the minimum standards required by the Directive. The report highlighted the need to clarify the role and protection of civil society organisations such as NGOs and unions in the whistleblowing framework. Other recommendations include extending the number and remit of several competent authorities to receive reports based on the subject matter of the concern, increased human and financial resources dedicated to the protection of whistleblowers, and the establishment of a specific whistleblowing framework for disclosures on matters of national security, defence and classified information.
A draft law to transpose the EU Directive on Whistleblowing has been presented to the Law Commission in France. The Bill tabled on 21 January 2021, includes provisions for a General Inspectorate for the Protection of Whistleblowers attached to the Defender of Rights Ombuds institution, the ‘Défenseur des Droits.’ The Law Commission adopted the Bill following several amendments.