Following its postponement to a meeting today, the European Union Council has unanimously accepted the recently developed Directive focusing on trade secrets.
Following previous issues, the new directive will create a minimum standard across all member states on how to protect and regulate trade secrets.
During the meeting, the Council also addressed some concerns expressed that the new directive will have an impact on free speech, the emergence of whistle blowers and the mobility of employees.
Speaking of these concerns the Council stated that the provisions contained in the Directive will “fully ensure that investigative journalism can be exercised without any limitations including with regard to the protection of journalistic sources”.
These reassurances are also reflected in the wording of the Directive itself. Recital 19 of the Directive provides that
“While this Directive provides for measures and remedies which can consist of preventing the disclosure of information in order to protect the confidentiality of trade secrets, it is essential that the exercise of the right to freedom of expression and information which encompasses media freedom and pluralism not be restricted, in particular with regard to investigative journalism and the protection of journalistic sources.”
Following this approval, the Directive will now be published in the Official Journal of the EU before it is formally deemed in force. Each member state will then have a maximum of two years to integrate it into their national law.
Obviously the effect on the UK will hinge on the outcome of the referendum in June so watch this space to determine its true impact.