S&Ds secure strong protections for journalists, whistle blowers and workers in trade secrets deal
S&D members today backed legislation on trade secrets in the legal affairs committee of the European Parliament, after having secured strong protections so that it puts the general interest ahead of narrow business interests, along with strong protections for freedom of expression, whistle blowers and workers. The report balances the concerns of European businesses over leaking of trade secrets with the right of workers and journalists to expose corruption and malpractice.
Evelyn Regner, the S&D spokesperson for legal affairs said:
"People who expose illegal activity, government or employer misconduct should be celebrated not prosecuted. They play an important role in ensuring that powerful companies and governments are held to account. This was the case in the recent Luxleaks scandal, where investigative journalism and employees highlighting unethical behaviour helped expose years of corruption and shady dealings between government and business."
"In the agreed text employees giving information to union or work representatives are explicitly exempted from the provision, and several other elements protect the rights of worker representatives. We also ensured that the experience and skills workers have gained in the course of employment are exempted from the application of this law. This helps ensure that this will not restrict employees wanting to move between jobs and companies."
Sergio Cofferati, the S&D co-ordinator for the report said:
"When we first saw this proposed directive we had concerns that it would damage the ability of journalists and employees to expose wrongdoings. The initial proposal was also focused solely on the protection of companies and had no provisions to guarantee the rights of workers. However, after a period of hard negotiations we have reached an agreement that allays those fears."
"We have secured strong exceptions for whistle-blowers and journalists seeking to expose corruption or malpractice, and managed to bring public interest above the interest of industry. Although we are still unsatisfied that the definition of trade secrets remains too broad, a crucial point for us was to ensure strong guarantees that this directive will not be used as a covert attack on worker's rights."