Whistleblowers’ protection in Bulgaria

Why do we care

Whistleblowers play an essential role in exposing corruption and other wrongdoing that threaten the public interest. By disclosing information about such misdeeds, whistleblowers have helped save countless lives and billions of euros in public funds.

Whistleblowers often put themselves at high personal risk. They may be fired, sued, blacklisted, arrested, and threatened. Protecting whistleblowers from such retaliation will promote the efficient exposure of corruption, while also enhancing openness and accountability in government and corporate workplaces.

Protecting whistleblowers from unfair treatment, including retaliation, discrimination, or disadvantage, can embolden people to report wrongdoing and thus increase the likelihood that wrongdoing is uncovered and sanctioned.

Whistleblower protection is thus a key means of enhancing openness and accountability in government and corporate workplaces. On the contrary, the lack of adequate protection can pose a dilemma for whistleblowers if to report wrongdoing and doing so to damage their career or expose themselves to retaliation.

Initiatives of Transparency International Bulgaria aimed at creating an effective system for the protection of persons reporting breaches in Bulgaria in the period 2023-2017

Transparency International Bulgaria continues its work to create an effective system for the protection of persons reporting irregularities in Bulgaria. In 2022, the “Speak Up Europe” project was launched. It encourages European citizens in 4 EU countries – Bulgaria, Italy, Slovenia and Hungary – to report violations and irregularities to public, private and civil society organisations that can take action to prevent corruption in high-risk areas of the EU.

The project aims to ensure that whistleblowers as well as all other citizens have access to practical online platforms to report corruption in high-risk areas to civil society organisations and receive technical assistance, advice, and consultation, as well as national authorities, public institutions and businesses working in areas at high risk of corruption to implement whistleblowing mechanisms, which are in line with the best international and European practices.

The project is funded by the Internal Security Fund of the European Union – Police. Project partners include TI Bulgaria, TI Hungary, TI Italy, TI Slovenia and Whistleblowing Solutions.

In 2023, our work is focused on monitoring the implementation of the Bulgarian legislation on whistleblower protection, which was adopted in early 2023 and entered into force on May 4, 2023. The Association’s team promotes the data collection system (Salesforce), as well as encourages reporting of violations or corruption through the ALAC Globaleaks platform.  We directed our information and communication campaign to Bulgarian citizens, providing them with up-to-date information on the implementation of the new legislation, their rights, as well as encouraging them why it is important to submit signals. The team of Transparency International Bulgaria has created a tool for public and private organizations that can be used by all stakeholders and applied by organizations as part of their internal procedures.

In 2022, the experts of Transparency International Bulgaria were part of the working group for the drafting of the bill on the protection of persons reporting irregularities by providing technical support and advocating for the full implementation of the standards regulated in Directive 2019/1937 EU. We held a series of meetings with the Ministry of Justice, as well as with the Legal Affairs Committee at the National Assembly,  The Commission for Personal Data Protection, the international and Bulgarian business associations in Bulgaria for improvements to the bill and especially for the part that concerns the business.

Transparency International Bulgaria continues its work on advocacy and communication with all stakeholders for the adoption of a comprehensive law. The team works with businesses and business associations to help create internal mechanisms to protect whistleblowers.

Transparency International Bulgaria became part of Whistleblowing International Network.

As an associate member of the Whistleblowing International Network (WIN) – an international network of non-governmental organizations working to protect and support whistleblowers, Transparency International Bulgaria has the opportunity to work with a number of other European non-governmental organizations for advocacy, exchange of experience and raising awareness of civil society in Bulgaria and Europe.

In the period 2020-2021, we worked actively to introduce an effective national system for the protection of whistleblowers.

In 2019, we prepared an analysis and a roadmap for transposing the Directive into national law.

In the period 2017 – 2018, our efforts were primarily aimed at creating an enabling environment and the necessary prerequisites for the adoption of national legislation.

The activities of our organization coincided with a similar process at European level – the adoption of the European Directive on the protection of persons reporting on breaches of Union law (Directive (EU) 2019/1937), which introduces minimum European standards for the protection of whistleblowers.

Transparency International Bulgaria works actively with representatives of the public and private sector, academia, media and other civil society organizations to promote and ensure the introduction of an effective system for the protection of persons reporting irregularities in Bulgaria, which also meets European and international standards and best practices.

Transparency International Bulgaria also participates  in the EU Whistleblowing Meter initiative, which tracks the progress in transposing the Directive in all EU countries.

Further reading

Position on the gaps and inconsistencies in the secondary legislation regulating whisleblower protection in the country

Position of Transparency International Bulgaria on the  key issues related to the adopted Methodological Guidance No. 1

The Commission for Personal Data Protection published a draft Ordinance on the keeping of the register of signals under Article 18 of the Law on the Protection of Persons Reporting or Publicly Disclosing Information on Violations

We insist Bulgarian government to immediately re-submit whistleblower protection draft-law

Petition concerning draft-law for the protection of whistleblowers in Bulgaria

Transparency International – Bulgaria position regarding the draft law for Whistleblowers protection

Directive (EU) 2019/1937 on the protection of persons who report breaches of Union law

International Principles for Whistleblower Legislation

A Best Practice Guide for Whistleblowing Legislation

The Business Case for ‘Speaking Up’: How Internal Reporting Mechanisms Strengthen Private-Sector Organisations