Dublin MEP Nessa Childers deplored the approval in the European Parliament of an EU-wide Directive governing sanctions for breaches of corporate trade secrets, due to its failures to adequately protect whistleblowers who bring wrongdoing into public light.
Speaking from Strasbourg after the vote, Ms. Childers said:
“EU companies face unfair competition if their knowledge is stolen through industrial espionage and that is why these practices are indeed illegal in EU countries.
“But this attempt to introduce EU-wide standards of protection for company secrets has turned into a much broader-reaching piece of legislation which fails to protect insiders who stand to lose their careers, income and face harassment and persecution when they blow the whistle on corrupt and unethical behaviour in their organisations.
“There is one single argument which to my mind suffices to reject this legislation.
It does nothing to protect the likes of Antoine Deltour, who is being prosecuted for theft of PriwaterhouseCoopers corporate secrets in Luxembourg, because his revelations of tax impropriety shed light on practices that were not illegal although deeply unscrupulous.
“The EU has been rocked by a string of serious scandals over the past year or so, from Luxleaks, through to Dieselgate, and most recently the Panama Papers.
“At their core, these scandals expose how powerful vested interests scheme to effectively put themselves above the rule of law which applies to the rest of us, for personal gain at great loss to the public.
“Yet, a majority of MEPs in Parliament decided to send the worst possible message against this backdrop, potentially muzzling the next source of tax dodging revelations in Europe.
“I commend the efforts of progressive colleagues who worked hard to improve the text, for instance, as regards the protection extended to journalists.
“Still, in the absence of proper safeguards to protect workers who risk everything to tell the truth, this vote should have been postponed until they are brought forward. Because it was not, the directive should have been quashed.
“This was a slap in the face of Antoine Deltour and his peers, who asked us to vote against, but whose probity and courage has mostly earned them prosecution in court.”
Contact: Mário Monteiro de Sá +32-474 08 80 19 / Bronwen Maher 087-784 1937