Sexual harassment in the EU parliament 

As more and more stories about sexual harassment at the European Parliament are coming to light, Austrian MEPs demand action.

Julia Sahlender
Julia Sahlender Der Standard, Austria
Source: Der Standard
Sexual harassment in the EU parliament  - NewsMavens

Why this story matters:

At the beginning of this week, it became public that there have been many cases of sexual harassment at the European Parliament -- some severe. According to The Sunday Times more than a dozen female aides were harassed by different MEPs. The women stated they had to keep quiet about the incidents in order to keep their jobs and reputations.

On Monday, the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, expressed his shock and thankfully added that "shock alone cannot be the answer." He further said that some steps to raise awareness of the issue had already been taken a year ago but that a fully-blown system needs to be implemented in order to tackle the problem.

Several Austrian MEPs have also voiced their dismay about the recent revelations and are demanding action. The difficulty lies in that there can be no prosecution on the EU level as this is within the jurisdiction of each individual state, explained Ulrike Lunacek from the Greens.  

Evelyn Regner from SPÖ thinks that MEPs who break the law should lose their immunity. NEOS MEP Angelika Mlinar is one of the five MEPs who are demanding an external investigation into the allegations. Elisabeth Köstinger, MEP for ÖVP, says that the tools which are currently in place have clearly failed to deal with sexual harassment effectively. According to her, the fact that none of the current cases have been reported to the official channels beforehand offers blatant proof. Once again, fear of retribution is gagging victims.

Details from the story:

  • The first allegations about sexual harassment at the European Parliament were raised in an article from The Sunday Times on October 22nd.
  • So far only one accused MEP has been named, a French politician from the Greens. But amongst the other perpetrators are supposedly some well-known and high-ranking MEPs, allegedly from Germany, amongst others.
  • While President Tajani says the allegations need to be investigated, there will be no external probe, as requested by some MEPs.

Project #Femfacts co-financed by European Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology as part of the Pilot Project – Media Literacy For All

The information and views set out on this website are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Neither the European Union institutions and bodies nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.

NewsMavens is a media start-up within Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's largest liberal broadsheet published by Agora S.A. NewsMavens is currently financed by Gazeta Wyborcza and Google DNI Fund.
Is something happening in your country that Newsmavens should cover?
Zuzanna Ziomecka
Zuzanna Ziomecka EDITOR IN CHIEF
Lea Berriault-Jauvin
Lea Berriault Managing Editor
Jessica Sirotin
Jessica Sirotin EDITOR
Ada Petriczko
Ada Petriczko EDITOR
Gazeta Wyborcza, Agora SA Czerska 8/10 00-732, Warsaw Poland
The e-mail addresses provided above are not intended for recruitment purposes. Messages concerning recruitment will be deleted immediately. Your personal data provided as part of your correspondence with Zuzanna,Lea, Jessica and Ada will be processed for the purpose of resolving the issue you contacted us about. The data provided in your email is controlled by Agora S.A. with its registered office in Warsaw Czerska 8/10 Street (00-732). You can find more information about the processing and protection of your personal data at