Eurobarometer survey shows whistleblowing is seen as difficult and dangerous


The latest Special Eurobarometer on Corruption, published on 19 December 2017, shows a widespread perception that whistleblowers across Europe face a difficult and dangerous situation. This collection of surveys across 28 European Union member states, conducted by the European Commission, focuses on corruption, giving a clear overview of the state of corruption in Europe.

According to the results, more than two thirds (68%) of Europeans think that corruption is widespread in their country. This number has fallen by 8% since 2013, however the majority of Europeans (73%) still believe that there is corruption in national public institutions, and that the measures taken against corruption are not satisfactory.

Yet in this situation of perceived corruption, whistleblowing is not seen as a secure option. 81% of respondents said that they did not report the corruption that they had witnessed, and the lack of whistleblower protection was the third most significant reason for this.

Nearly one third of respondents (29%) think that there is no protection for those who report corruption, and roughly half of respondents in Cyprus (51%) and the Netherlands (49%) think that whistleblower protection is weak.

Almost half of Europeans do not know where to even report corruption, and in Bulgaria and Hungary, only around one in four respondents know where to report corruption.

The Eurobarometer results follow increasing demands on the European Commission to protect whistleblowers. At the moment, legislation on the treatment of whistleblowers varies across European member states. On 5 December 2017, a demonstration outside the European Commission was organised by the European United Left/Nordic Green Left, alongside the European Parliament’s Greens group and the Socialists and Democrats group, demanding that the Commission take legislative action to protect whistleblowers.

The European Federation of Journalists is also invested in the protection of whistleblowers, and alongside other organisations handed over 81,000 citizens’ signatures in a petition calling for the protection of whistleblowers to the European Commission.

The entire Eurobarometer survey can be read here.

Photo credit: EFJ / Emily Howard