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EU: Wording of whistleblower provisions in Trade Secrets Directive changed at last minute behind closed doors
27 May 2016
"Today, unfortunately, the controversial Trade Secrets directive was formally adopted by the Council, but only after several delays due to disagreements over how specifically to translate a key provision in the text: the word "wrongdoing". This confusion at such a late stage in the democratic process clearly shows that specific EU legislation to effectively protect those that disclose public interest information, is desperately needed."
Then [after the Parliament's approval] it was the Council's turn: the 28 Member States needed to rubber-stamp the text adopted by the European Parliament for it to be officially adopted as an EU law. However, already in the days running up to the vote in Parliament, the French-speaking countries in Council decided that the Parliament's translation of "wrongdoing" into French ("comportement inapproprié") was not what they wanted, and so they began to bargain behind the scenes with the Parliament's legal translators, to change it to a much narrower wording that would leave whistleblowers disclosing information about legal activity in the cold. Indeed, for a brief moment during the Parliament's vote, the translation of "wrongdoing" on the Parliament website mysteriously turned into "faute professionel", but was quickly changed back again after MEPs complained that this was totally incorrect.
This then led to a highly irregular situation, in which the Council and its legal translators began to actually negotiate with the European Parliament's legal translators and the trade secrets rapporteur over the exact wording to be used, but AFTER the European Parliament had already adopted the directive. Yesterday, an agreement on the term "acte répréhensible" was apparently reached, that was then finally presented to all political groups' negotiators, who up to that points had been left completely in the dark. The two largest parties in the European Parliament then gave Council the green light to proceed with the vote."
See: Lost in Translation: Back-room debates about the impact of trade secrets on whistle-blowers shows urgent need for EU wide whistle-blower protection