The text ensures effective protection for those who report breaches of EU and national law. The Executive has also initiated the process to choose the seat of the Spanish Agency for the Oversight of Artificial Intelligence.
The Council of Ministers has submitted to the General Courts the draft law regulating the protection of persons who report on infringements of European and national law.
The regulation transposes the 2019 EU directive known as Whistleblowers and complies with the Government’s objectives in the comprehensive fight against corruption contained in its coalition agreement and in the Fourth Open Government Plan 2020-2024. “
Legal framework for whistleblower protection
Moncloa/Borja Puig de la Bellacasa
The Minister for Justice, Pilar Llop, underlined that the central aim of the future law is the “efficient and effective” protection by the administration of those persons who, within both public and private organizations, communicate information relating to infringements of EU and national law. Where the information reveals that a criminal offence may have been committed, it shall be reported immediately to the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
Any citizen or public official will be able to report suspicious operations, subsidies or awards, even anonymously, an aspect that has been introduced “considering that the Supreme Court already admits anonymous criminal complaints in our system and given that anonymous complaints always have a special evidentiary value”, the minister pointed out.
To establish safeguards against false information or spurious reports, which can cause serious damage to persons, public institutions or companies, the communication or public disclosure of information knowing it to be false will be punishable. For example, the sanctioning system envisages public reprimands, the prohibition to obtain subsidies or to contract with the public administration and fines ranging from €1,001 to €300,000 in the case of natural persons and from €10,001 to €1,000,000 in the case of legal entities.
Pilar Llop pointed out that the new mechanism envisaged in the law will not replace the traditional judicial and sectoral channels of complaint.
Complaints can be made through a newly created independent administrative authority or through the internal channels of each organization, which will be mandatory for companies with more than 50 employees, political parties, trade unions and foundations receiving public funds. All municipalities must also have them, although those with less than 10,000 inhabitants may share the means for receiving information with other municipalities within the same autonomous community.
The maximum time limit for carrying out the necessary investigations and replying to the informant will be three months, with the possibility of an extension if the complexity of the matter so requires.
Choice of location for the Spanish Agency for the Oversight of Artificial Intelligence
The Executive has initiated the procedure to designate the actual headquarters of the future Spanish Agency for the Oversight of Artificial Intelligence (AESIA). The initiative is part of the commitment to decentralizing the public sector and territorial cohesion.
The creation of this agency is foreseen in the National Artificial Intelligence Strategy and has an allocation of €5 million for its implementation in the 2022 General Budget.
The Minister for Territorial Policy and Government Spokesperson, Isabel Rodríguez, has explained that the Consultative Commission for the determination of the venues will determine the selection criteria within the next month. Once published in the BOE, the autonomous communities and local entities that so wish may present their candidacy and the election must be held within a maximum period of six months.
Aid for La Palma
The Council of Ministers has transferred €6.5 million to the Government of the Canary Islands to help those affected by the volcanic eruption on La Palma.
Isabel Rodríguez stated that this amount will help the more than 600 families who need to replace essential household goods.
Since the eruption of the volcano on 19 September 2021, the Government of Spain has committed €555 million, of which €425 million, or 77%, have already been mobilized. “We are making an unprecedented effort,” said the spokesperson, who highlighted the speed with which the aid is being processed.
Source Government of Spain