Parliament rolled out campaign against sexual harassment last year
The European Parliament is taking the reports on sexual harassment that have emerged over the weekend very seriously. It already has initiatives in place to tackle this phenomenon.
The European Parliament has had an advisory committee of MEPs dealing with harassment complaints between assistants and members since the beginning of this legislature. It does not deal exclusively with sexual harassment but with all forms of harassment in the work place. So far, it has not received any formal complaints about sexual harassment.
Parliament President Antonio Tajani reacted strongly on Monday saying, “It is with shock and indignation that I have learned of recent allegations of sexual harassment at the European Parliament. However, shock alone cannot be the answer. Though steps have already been taken a year ago to raise awareness of the existence of the harassment complaints committee, it’s necessary to further increase awareness of the facilities already in place.” At the opening of the session, Mr Tajani announced that the Bureau, the presidium of Parliament, would discuss the matter that very same evening.
At the end of last year, the Advisory Committee rolled out a more pro-active and preventive campaign, which is still ongoing. With this, the committee is trying on the one hand to raise awareness of its existence and make itself more visible to MEPs' assistants, and on the other hand to raise awareness of the issue of harassment among MEPs. The campaign consists of posters put up around Parliament's buildings and a leaflet to inform MEPs "how to avoid improper behaviour towards your staff". A leaflet for assistants is currently being drafted. There are also training sessions for members as well as for assistants and there is an early support system in place, consisting of confidential counsellors.