The draft EU directive on trade secrets will be put to the vote on June 16 by the European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee (JURI). This directive threatens fundamental rights and puts the profits of multinational corporations over democratic, social and environmental rights. By adopting a broad and vague definition of trade secrets, and by making it an offense every time information considered confidential by the company concerned is published, the whole range of activities of the media, trade unions and whistleblowers is threatened. At the same time, the European Commission refused on June 6 to begin work on a directive to protect whistleblowers, as requested by the European Parliament.
The Luxleaks scandal, and Luxembourg’s prosecution of whistleblower Antoine Deltour and journalist Edouard Perrin, who both risk a five year prison term, illustrate what will become possible at the European level if the trade secrets directive is adopted.
Whereas the potential consequences of this text for the individual and collective rights of employees are huge, neither trade unions nor NGOs were formally consulted on the matter. The Commission experienced intense lobbying by a handful of multinational companies during the drafting of the text and has clealry adopted their point of view. The European Trade Union Confederation, Eurocadres, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), many national trade unions and NGOs only discovered this text when it reached the European Parliament and immediately voiced strong concerns.
65 NGO and trade union leaders from 10 EU countries – among them Julian Assange (Wikileaks), Ignacio Fernandez Toxo (President of the European Trade Union Confederation), Sarah Harrisson (Courage Foundation), Dominique Guibert (President of the European Human Rights Association), Jim Boumelha (President of the International Federation of Journalists), Gualtiero Michelini (President of Magistrats Européens pour la Démocratie et les Libertés), Martin Jefflen (Eurocadres), Martin Pigeon (member of Corporate Europe Observatory) and Ricardo Gutiérrez (General secretary of the European Federation of Journalists) – are therefore sending a solemn call to MEPs in a common text, #StopTradeSecrets. It is imperative that the threats against transparency and democracy contained in this EU trade secrets draft directive are stopped.
This European call is only one among many. For instance more than 240,000 citizens signed a petition launched on 4 June by journalist Elise Lucet.
With this directive, Europe is about to turn its back on the very democratic principles it was founded upon. We are counting on MEPs to put democracy and the general interest above the demands of multinational corporations.
The EFJ calls on its affiliates to take action: Make the MEPs back off on Trade Secrets.