Whistleblower protection around EU funds fraud 'a good start' - Carthy
Sinn Fein MEP Matt Carthy has welcomed the near-unanimous vote on whistleblowers in the European Parliament this week, which calls for protection for whistleblowers who report corruption and fraud that directly involves EU funds.
Carthy, a member of the European Parliament's Panama Papers inquiry committee, said: "Recent events in Ireland have highlighted once again how important the role of whistleblowers is in society, and how those who speak up are often targeted, intimidated and vilified. We have a long way to go in making effective whistleblower protection a reality, both in Ireland and across Europe.
"The European Parliament vote on whistleblower protection is a small but significant step forward – it recognises the importance of whistleblowers for the correct use of EU funds and deplores the fact that the Commission has failed to submit any legislative proposals aimed at establishing a minimum level of protection for whistle-blowers. It calls on the Commission to make a proposal by the end of this year on protecting whistle-blowers as part of the prevention of and fight against fraud affecting EU funds.
"This initiative relating to EU funds came in response to the so-called ‘Trade Secrets’ directive adopted last year. The Trade Secrets Directive was a serious attack on the rights of whistleblowers and investigative journalists. It defines 'trade secrets' very vaguely and reduced the rights of whistleblowers to the benefit of big corporations.
"Over the past six months I have been working on the Panama Papers inquiry and have engaged with several whistleblowers through that process. The entire inquiry was set up because of the actions of the whistleblower who leaked the Mossack Fonseca data. Last week in the Panama Papers inquiry hearing, we heard from compliance officers who blew the whistle on the bank they were working for, and were immediately sacked in response.
"Likewise, the Luxleaks case that revealed Luxembourg's sweetheart deals with multinationals is another example that shows just how important the role of whistleblowers can be in exposing wrongdoing and bringing about change.
"Progressive forces have been campaigning for broad whistle-blower protection at the EU level for several years. This proposal, as it is only relates to EU funds, should be easier to adopt, and I hope it can be swiftly agreed to and implemented. When it comes to fraud involving European funds, the interests of whistleblowers should be given prime importance."