Monitoring of the media coverage of the new Law on the protection of persons reporting or publicly disclosing information on breaches (the “Whistleblowing Law”) which transposes the requirements of Directive (EU) 2019/1937 on the protection of persons who report breaches of Union law – short analyses of the media coverage and the way the Bulgarian citizens are being informed on the issue
Bulgaria delayed the transposition of the EU Directive of Whistleblower protection in the national legislation and missed the deadline – of 17 December 2021. The Law on protection of persons reporting or publicly disclosing information on breaches (the “Whistleblowing Law”) was adopted on 27 January 2023. This adoption was preceded by back-and-forth steps of all political parties in the national Parliament.
The law was promulgated in the State Gazette, Issue No. 11 of February 2, 2023 and enters into force on May 4, 2023 for all obligated persons, with the exception of the provisions establishing obligations for private sector employers who have between 50 and 249 workers or employees, which will apply from 17 December 2023.
In October 2022 two similar projects have been submitted – one from the Council of Ministers and the second one from the Democratic Bulgaria party. In November 2022 the projects found support in the legal parliamentary committees. However, on December 14 four parties GERB, DPS, BSP, and Vazrazhdane finally voted “against”.
GERB and BSP argued during the debate about the imperfection of the texts. Vazrazhdane simply declared the lawas ‘a law for the administration of noses (slanderers)’.
On January 12 2023, GERB submitted its own text. It was almost identical to the rejected draft of the Council of Ministers a month earlier. The key difference to previous proposals is the body designated to receive and process external reports. The new project defines this will be the Commission for Personal Data Protection. This project was put on the fast track and was finally adopted on January 27, 2023.
The media coverage of the project was most visible on 20 January 2023 when the law was voted in the Judicial Commission of the Parliament and on 27 January 2023 when the Parliament voted on the law.
Media published short news pieces about the process of adoption of the law. Most of the news pieces attracted a very low readership and motivated no comments at all. The only comment in one of the publications was irrelevant to the topic.
The monitoring covers the period October 2022 – February 2023. The general impression is that the coverage of the Directive is moderate, and goes into five main segments:
1. Specialized coverage – mainly on Law offices web pages – 21
2. NGOs web pages – 1
3. General and Specialized Media – 18
4. Workshops and Public Debates Announced – 7
5. Corporate websites – 2
49 publications are registered for the analyzed period.
ANALYSES IN DETAILS
1. SPECIALIZED LAW OFFICES’ WEB PAGES
The law provoked much larger attention among specialized audiences rather than among general audiences. There were quite a large number of publications in February 2023.
A. Some specialized sites published the law:
B. Many prominent law offices published explanatory articles:
C. Some law or company offices published larger educational pieces:
2. NGO WEB PAGES
The interest to the law was very limited also among the NGOs in Bulgaria:
3. GENERAL MEDIA
The publications in the day when the law was adopted also attracted an extremely low readership. An editor of one of the leading national media commented to Media Development Center for thus report that they usually do “not publish news pieces like this because that they rarely attract readers’ interest”. A few media stressed on the fact that the law was adopted “in the middle of the night” – a presumption that the act is only to parry the EU blow of eventual further delay and avoid infringement procedures.
A. The general media published very limited comments on the law generally speaking.
B. Some publications about the law were published in English:
C. The general media published very limited comments on the new law:
4. WORKSHOPS AND PUBLIC DEBATES ANNOUNCED
There were a couple of workshops and public debates announced.
5. CORPORATE WEBSITES:
Very few companies established channels.