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The Whistleblowing Directive – Where Does Romania Stand?

Publication: ZRVP

Progress towards implementing the Whistleblowing Directive – an opportunity to ensure that people can expose abuses safely

A proactive attitude of people bringing to public attention potential malfunctions such as corruption noticed in a formal context, also recognised as “whistleblowers”, might be a core feature of a democratic society that tends towards a smooth and healthy functioning. This is the reason for which the European Union is closely monitoring the manner in which Member States understand to legally transpose the European principles aimed at protecting persons who report violations of the law, which have occurred or are likely to occur.

Considering the obligation imposed on Member States to transpose the Directive on the Protection of Persons who Report Breaches of Union Law (Directive (EU) 2019/1937) (the “Whistleblowing Directive”), Romania has recently taken further formal steps towards this desiderate. In this sense, the Chamber of Deputies have recently approved such draft law. Nonetheless, the path to the enactment of this law seems to be one involving a long term given several challenges which might be further encountered, according to public opinion.

After a series of successive changes, the whistleblowing national draft law is addressing both authorities, public institutions, and other legal persons under public law, as well as persons under private law, considering certain specified circumstances.

Alongside setting general principles, such as legality, impartiality, and liability, the general framework for protection also implies a few essential rules, such as:

  • formal new obligations imposed on entities with over 50 employees –an obligation to maintain specific internal statistics on reporting violations of the law, for a minimum period, with the assurance of confidentiality. Moreover, an impartial person or an impartial department competent to act following the reporting and to ensure prompt feedback, which shall take no longer than 3 months after receiving such report, should also be designated.
  • it prohibits any form of retaliation, attempted retaliation or threats against whistleblowers. Such potential threats could occur by any suspension of the individual’s employment contract or employment relationship, dismissal from public office, amendment of the employment contract or employment relationship or by reducing the salary and changing the work schedule or, even worse, by any form of harassment, discrimination or by creating another disadvantage or undergoing treatment.

The legislation process is ongoing, as potential dysfunctions, which might even be of a constitutional nature, have been notified. At this moment, the focus might be on the need to transpose the European principles in essence and not on the application of a formal transposition that could remain without full applicability. Given this context, robust legislation is vital to protect whistleblowers and ensure reports of harm are addressed.

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