The European Parliament approved new internal rules on Monday evening (20 November) on how whistleblowers can act and how they are protected, in order to update and clarify existing procedures, an official EU source said. European Parliament to EURACTIV.
“Parliament staff, including parliamentary assistants, now have a clear set of rules on how whistleblowers can act and how they are protected, in line with the Whistleblowers Directive,” the official source told EURACTIV.
A whistleblower is a person who reports a person or organization considered to be engaging in illegal or moral activity.
Corruption and lobbying have become increasingly sensitive topics in Parliament following the so-called “Qatargate” scandal, in which MEPs and some aides were accused of accepting bribes from Qatar and Morocco to influence the position of the European Parliament on issues concerning these two countries.
In February, European Parliament President Roberta Metsola presented a set of rules aimed at improving the integrity of the European Parliament in the wake of the scandal, approved by MEPs in September.
Compared to the previous set of rules, the new provisions include anonymous reporting, a clearer definition of good faith and the addition of data protection provisions. In some cases, external institutions may be involved in the process, such as the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) or “other institutions”, the official source told Euractiv.
According to the adopted rules, “serious irregularities” are defined as “illegal activities harmful to the interests of the European Union, such as fraud, corruption, theft, serious breaches of public procurement rules or behavior linked to the exercise of professional functions which may constitute a serious breach of obligations incumbent on civil servants, other staff and members of the institution,” the European Parliament official told Euractiv.
For the protection of complaints, for example, a “system to secure the online transmission of alert notifications to the Secretary General” is being developed, according to a document on the subject from the European Parliament office, consulted by Euractiv.
“There is also compulsory training for managers,” added the European Parliament official.
Mandatory training for accredited parliamentary assistants (APA) will be introduced in another proposal, the document specifies.
Regarding the protection of whistleblowers themselves, “further clarify what potential whistleblowers should do, what they can expect after making the notification and what information they should expect to receive” , the head of the European Parliament told Euractiv.
The rules also establish a new set of anti-harassment procedures, to clarify steps to be taken in handling this matter, for example in the creation of a new mediation service to help “MPs and staff resolve situations difficult relationships,” declared the European Parliament. » an official told EURACTIV.
New measures will also be put in place for witness protection and deadlines.
(Edited by Nathalie Weatherald)