Facilitate anonymous/confidential reporting of suspected corruption, strengthen the capacity of authorities receiving reports of corruption to process the reports effectively and confidentially, reinforce cooperation between the authorities, and strengthen key structures for protecting whistleblowers.
The commitment can be divided into four sub-commitments. They can be considered specific because they relate to a clear policy area: whistleblower protection.
The language of the sub-commitment itself does not identify clear, measurable actions. It is unclear (1) how the government wants to provide anonymous or confidential whistleblower reporting (2) how it aims to strengthen the capacity of authorities receiving reports of corruption to process these reports (3) how it wants to reinforce the cooperation between the authorities in addressing these reports, and (4) how it aims to strengthen key structures for the protection of whistleblowers. It is also unclear what is meant by “key structures”. However, further research shows that this commitment is linked to the EU’s Whistleblower Directiveand the later operationalisation of this commitment in the National Anti-Corruption Strategy. Therefore, the following measurable actions can be identified:
1. Fully implement the EU Whistleblower Directive. In particular:
- a) Set up anonymous/confidential reporting mechanisms in line with the standards for confidential reporting channels (Chapter II of the Directive). (1)
- b) Set up protective measures for whistleblowers (Chapter IV). (4)
2. Organise training for those receiving and processing reports and for the authorities and companies participating in the protection. (2)
3. Reinforce cooperation between the authorities. (3)
- a) Set up an operational cooperation group to enhance the fight against corruption and to improve coordination between the authorities.
- b) Ministries appoint contact persons for the prevention and combatting of corruption to draw attention to corruption issues within their own organisation.
 European Union, Directive (EU) 2019/1937 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2019 on the Protection of Persons who Report Breaches of Union Law, https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/en/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A32019L1937
 Finnish Government, Government Resolution on the National Anti-Corruption Strategy and Action Plan 2021-2023, https://julkaisut.valtioneuvosto.fi/bitstream/handle/10024/163398/VN_2021_68.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
This commitment responds directly to recommendations by GRECO in the fifth evaluation round in 2018, which highlight the shortcomings of reporting obligations and channels, and whistleblower protection at large.1 These recommendations explicitly focused on “(i) establishing an obligation for police officers and border guards to report corruption; and (ii) strengthening the protection of whistleblowers in that respect”. GRECO has highlighted the need for corruption reporting channels since its second evaluation round for Finland in 2003.2
When the Finnish government made this commitment at the IACC 2018, Finland did not have specific whistleblower protection legislation. Instead, the legislative protection of whistleblowers has been created through other legislation, such as the Trade Secrets Act (transposed from the 2017 EU Directive), providing limited measures to protect whistleblowers from retaliation and support reporting illicit behaviour.3 To address this gap, the National Anti-Corruption Strategy 2021-2023 mentions under action 5.1.2 the implementation of the EU Whistleblower Directive. It also includes various activities supporting whistleblower protection, such as awareness raising, capacity building and cooperation between authorities.
The sub-actions of the commitment as operationalised in the National Action Plan are outlined below. These actions should be implemented in 2022-2023, with some having started in 2021.
2.1 Fully implement the EU Whistleblower Directive. Partially fulfilled
a) Set up anonymous and confidential reporting mechanisms in line with the standards for confidential reporting channels (Chapter II of the Directive). Not fulfilled
There has been no progress in setting up anonymous or confidential reporting mechanisms, as the reporting channels will only become operational when the legislation is implemented. According to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), it has only started to inform the obliged entities of their responsibilities to establish reporting channels, to provide them with sufficient time to prepare.4
b) Establish protective measures for whistleblowers (Chapter IV). Partially fulfilled
The EU institutions reached an agreement on the directive in 2018, since when EU Member States have been able to transpose the directive into national legislation. However, implementing the Directive in Finland is yet to be finalised. According to the Ministry of Justice, the Finnish government plans to submit the legislation to parliament in June 2022 for approval. The ministry closed public consultations on the bill in July 2021.5
2.2 Organise training for those receiving and processing reports. Partially fulfilled
According to MoJ, it has provided preparatory training for the relevant reporting entities. (See Annex 3 for these training activities.) However, there is little publicly available information about this training, and it is unclear if it reached all relevant persons, who are receiving and processing reports.
2.3 Reinforce cooperation between the authorities. Partially fulfilled
a) Set up an operational cooperation group to enhance the fight against corruption and improve operational cooperation between the authorities. Not fulfilled
The MoJ could not provide detailed confirmation of such a group being established.
b) Ministries appoint contact persons for the prevention and combatting of corruption, to draw attention to corruption issues within their own organisation. Fulfilled
The ministries have appointed their contact persons to prevent and combat corruption. This is confirmed by the evidence provided in Annex 4, figure 2.3.1.
As the government implemented only some of the promised actions to implement the EU Directive and improve whistleblower protection, this commitment is considered partially fulfilled overall.
|Challenges to effective commitment implementation|
|The Finnish government announced in December 2021 that there was a delay in the implementation of the directive.6 According to the Ministry of Justice, this was due to the large scale of the proposed EU legislation and the extent of the responses to the public consultation.7 However, the process of preparing the legislation can also be considered considerably late, as it was started in April 2018. It also needs to be noted that eight countries had managed to adopt the legislation by April 2022 (Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Lithuania, Latvia, Malta, Portugal, Sweden), according to the EU Whistleblowing monitor.8 However, some of these countries already had existing legislation on whistleblower legislation to built on.9
The deadline for transposition of the directive to national legislation was the end of 2021. However, beyond Finland, several other EU Member States have delayed transposition. The EU Whistleblowing Monitor highlighted that there had been three delays in the process of implementing the national legislation in Finland.10 This report does not cover the latest delay, announced in December 2021.11
|Opportunities to accelerate commitment implementation|
|The simultaneous experience of implementing the directive in other EU states will provide an opportunity to learn from the best practices in other countries. However, due to the delays in several countries, these opportunities may be limited to the eight early adopters. In addition, the European Commission has an expert group to support its Member States in implementing the directive in which Finland has been participating already during the earlier part of the legislative process. However, it is unclear if it intends to meet further after July 2021, when the last meeting was held.12
The government can also use the EU Expert Working Groups on Protecting Persons who Report Breaches of Union Law12 to exchange best practices in directive implementation. The OECD analysis on whistleblower protection regimes13 can also be used to seek best practice outside EU countries and beyond the Directive.
- 30 Jun 2022
- 30 Jun 2022
- Finnish Government 595/2018 Trade Secrets Act30 Jun 2022
- Transparency International Anonymous interview with Ministry of Justice representative30 Jun 2022
- Finnish Parliament National implementation of the Whistleblower Directive30 Jun 2022
- 30 Jun 2022
- 30 Jun 2022
- EU Whistleblowing Monitor https://www.whistleblowingmonitor.eu/30 Jun 2022
- European Environmental Bureau Whistleblowing Law in 2021, a quick guide30 Jun 2022
- EU Whistleblowing Monitor Finland30 Jun 2022
- 30 Jun 2022
- European Commission Commission Expert Group on the Directive (EU) 2019/1937 on the Protection of Persons Who Report Breaches of Union Law (E03709)30 Jun 2022
- 30 Jun 2022
- Secretariat of GRECO The protection of whistleblowers in the light of GRECO’s work30 Jun 2022
(logged in as editor)