Europe – Commission backs van Buitenen

The European Commission is expected to introduce new legislation to protect whistleblowers by the end of the year after a key committee backed EC auditor Paul van Buitenen, whose revelations of mismanagement led to the resignation of the entire commission in March.

The committee of independent experts was not expected to release its second report on fraud and financial mismanagement until September, but rushed out a chapter dealing with Commission members’ conduct last week.

The report emphasises the duty of civil servants to report wrongdoing to anti-fraud unit OLAF. It also highlights the need for specific mechanisms ‘to allow the civil servant to address an external authority’.

Insiders said the Commission, now led by Romano Prodi, would legislate to protect whistleblowers along similar lines to UK laws introduced this month.

Van Buitenen faced serious disciplinary procedures because he approached members of parliament directly with his allegations.

‘The UK has clarified its standards and that has transferred itself to a European level and clearly this is something we will have to look at,’ said a Commission accounting official.

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