Christiana Stilianidou
Failure to transpose EU Directive 2019/1937 into Greek legislation
28 • 12 • 2021

EU Directive 2019/1937 regulates whistleblower protection issues. EU Member States had until 17 December 2021 to comply with the provisions of the directive and to incorporate them into the domestic legal order. Despite the expiration of this deadline, Greece, at the end of 2021, has not passed the relevant legislation, in infringement of EU law. In the current context of the fight against corruption in Greece, this failure to provide an effective framework for the protection of persons speaking out about corruption can only raise further concerns.

On 23 October 2019, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union adopted EU Directive 2019/1937 (see the text here) as it was considered that, “…potential whistleblowers are often discouraged from reporting their concerns or suspicions for fear of retaliation. In this context, the importance of providing balanced and effective whistleblower protection is increasingly acknowledged at both Union and international level…Whistleblower protection currently provided in the Union is fragmented across Member States and uneven across policy areas.” This Directive sets minimum common standards to ensure the effective protection of whistleblowers in specific areas, noting that Member States may decide to extend the application to other areas in order to ensure a comprehensive and coherent whistleblower framework at a national level.

Article 26 of the Directive provides that “Member States shall bring into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with this Directive by 17 December 2021.” Despite the expiration of this deadline, Greece has not yet transposed this directive (5-1-2021) (for details of the transposition of this directive by other EU member states, see here and here).

The failure to transpose the directive and to provide in the Greek legal order an effective framework for the protection of persons who blow the whistle on corruption, raises further concerns if one considers the present context of the fight against corruption in Greece in which this takes place. For example, a dispute had recently arisen over the anonymity of protected witnesses in the Novartis case regarding their testimony in related criminal proceedings, (see 1, 2, 3) while in November 2021 the opposition party had denounced an attempt by the government to ” bench”  witnesses of public interest (see a  1, 2).

Where is the problem with the rule of law?

It is the responsibility of the Member States of the European Union to transpose the provisions of the directives which have been adopted at Union level into national law.

In this case, however, Greece violated its obligation as at the date of the expiration of the deadline it had not incorporated the content of EU Directive 2019/1937, concerning the protection of whistleblowers, into national law.

At the same time, the failure to provide an adequate and effective framework for the protection of persons providing information which assists in the fight against corruption also leads to concerns as to whether the Greek Government is taking substantial measures to ensure the principles of transparency and accountability and tackling corruption effectively.

Christiana Stilianidou
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