The deadline for transposing the EU Whistleblowing Directive already expired in 2021 and the European Commission subsequently initiated infringement proceedings against a number of countries that failed to complete the process on time. There was noticeable progress in late 2022, however, with several EU member states finally approving draft laws transposing the Directive.
Belgium, Germany, Greece and Italy all transposed the law towards the end of the year, taking the total number of EU member states that have done so to 14. The Hinweisgeberschutzgesetz (Whistleblower Protection Act) in Germany is especially notable as it brings comprehensive whistleblower protection measures to Europe’s largest economy and allows for anonymous reporting.
Elsewhere, the speed of the Directive’s implementation in Greece was surprising after the government in Athens was criticised by NGOs for a sluggish transposition process lacking transparency. Things were equally laborious in Italy where the new law was eventually approved on 09 December with a much wider scope than Law 179/2017, the current legislation. Belgium was also able to get its transposition process over the finish line in November while the Dutch Whistleblower Protection Act was adopted by the Lower House on 20 December, bringing implementation a step closer.
While precise implementation dates are not yet certain, it is likely that most of these measures will come into force in the spring of 2023. Companies are nevertheless advised to proactively take the first steps right away so that they are well positioned to comply with the new legislation and avoid legal penalties.
When examining the trajectory of the EU Whistleblowing Directive in 2023, it is also important to mention Ireland where the Protected Disclosures (Amendment) Bill 2022 was passed during summer 2022. That legislation is now poised to come into effect from 01 January 2023, bringing sweeping protective measures to Irish whistleblowers.
Elsewhere, more governments are making headway and transposition looks to be imminent in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Finland and Spain. While there has been no official implementation in these countries as of yet, it is likely that their new laws will still come into force at some point in 2023.