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Statement from European Chief Prosecutor Laura Kövesi regarding the protection of whistleblowers in Romania

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Whistleblowers are an essential source of information for investigation and public prosecution services. The correct transposition and effective implementation of 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 (Whistleblowers’ protection Directive) therefore is of direct operational relevance for the European Public Prosecutor’s Office. If you fail to protect whistleblowers, you limit detection. If you do not detect, you cannot investigate and prosecute.

The European Chief Prosecutor has duly noted that on 29 June 2022, the Romanian Chamber of Deputies finally adopted a law aiming to transpose the Whistleblowers’ protection Directive. Based on the preliminary analysis of the law, and especially of the amendments made to the draft law on 28 June 2022, just before its adoption by the plenary, the European Chief Prosecutor is assessing whether some of these provisions would be contrary to the Whistleblowers’ protection Directive, and represent a step backwards with regard to the current level of protection, established under national law since 2004.

The main point of concern is that this could have a chilling effect, discouraging potential whistleblowers in Romania and negatively affecting the level of detection of EU fraud. De facto, this would lead to a deterioration of the existing system ensuring the proper functioning of investigation and public prosecution services in relation to the investigation and prosecution of fraud, including tax fraud, corruption or other breaches of Union law relating to the implementation of the Union budget or to the protection of the financial interests of the Union.

It is important to recall, in addition, that the EPPO has not yet received the nomination of 9 European Delegated Prosecutors from Romania and that there has been a considerable delay in granting the EPPO office in Romania an adequate number of judicial police officers in support of its operations. The European Chief Prosecutor is considering whether this persisting situation, combined with the latest developments would warrant a report to the European Commission in line with Recital 16 of Regulation (EU) 2020/2092 of 16 December 2020 on a general regime of conditionality for the protection of the Union Budget.