Procedure : 2017/2897(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B8-0580/2017

Texts tabled :


Debates :

PV 25/10/2017 - 4
CRE 25/10/2017 - 4

Votes :

PV 26/10/2017 - 10.6

Texts adopted :


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See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B8-0576/2017

to wind up the debate on the statement by the Commission

pursuant to Rule 123(2) of the Rules of Procedure

on combating sexual harassment and abuse in the EU (2017/2897(RSP))

Beatriz Becerra Basterrechea, Catherine Bearder, Sophia in ‘t Veld, Angelika Mlinar, Izaskun Bilbao Barandica, Filiz Hyusmenova on behalf of the ALDE Group

European Parliament resolution on combating sexual harassment and abuse in the EU (2017/2897(RSP))  

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Articles 2 and 3 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and Articles 8, 10, 19 and 157 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–  having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which entered into force with the Treaty of Lisbon in December 2009(1), and in particular Articles 20, 21, 23 and 31 thereof,

–  having regard to the 2014 report by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) entitled ‘Violence against women’(2),

–  having regard to Directive 2006/54/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 July 2006 on the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation (recast)(3),

–  having regard to the Gender Equality Index Report of the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE),

–  having regard to the Commission staff working document of 3 December 2015 entitled ‘Strategic engagement for gender equality 2016-2019’ (SWD(2015)0278),

–-  having regard to the EU Presidency Trio declaration of July 2017 by Estonia, Bulgaria and Austria on equality between women and men,

–  having regard to the 1993 UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, Article 2 of which states that violence against women includes: ‘physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring within the general community, including rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment and intimidation at work, in educational institutions and elsewhere, trafficking in women and forced prostitution’,

–  having regard to the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing and the Beijing Platform for Action for Equality, Development and Peace (1995),

–  having regard to Directive 2012/29/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2001/220/JHA(4) (the Victims’ Rights Directive),

–  having regard to the Framework Agreement on Harassment and Violence at Work (2007) between ETUC/CES, BUSINESSEUROPE, UEAPME and CEEP,

–  having regard to the report of the European Network of Equality Bodies (EQUINET) entitled ‘The Persistence of Discrimination, Harassment and Inequality for Women. The work of equality bodies informing a new European Commission Strategy for Gender Equality’, published in 2015,

–  having regard to the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, in particular Articles 2 and 40 thereof(5),

–  having regard to Article 12a of the EU Staff Regulations,

–  having regard to its resolutions of 14 March 2017 on equality between women and men in the European Union in 2014-2015(6), and of 10 March 2015 on progress on equality between women and men in the European Union in 2013(7),

–  having regard to Rule 123(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas gender equality is a core value of the EU – as recognised in the Treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights – which the EU has committed to integrating into all its activities;

B.  whereas the EU is a community of values, based on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights, enshrined in its core principles and objectives in the first articles of the TEU and in the criteria for Union membership;

C.  whereas sexual harassment is defined in EU law as ‘where any form of unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature occurs, with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person, in particular when creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment’(8);

D.  whereas discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation is prohibited by EU law;

E.  whereas sexual harassment is contrary to the principle of gender equality and constitutes gender-based discrimination, and is therefore prohibited in employment, including with regard to access to employment, vocational training and promotion;

F.  whereas the Beijing Platform for Action’s definition of violence against women encompasses, but is not limited to, physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring within the general community, including rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment and intimidation at work, in educational institutions and elsewhere(9);

G.  whereas the Victims’ Rights Directive defines gender-based violence as a form of discrimination and a violation of the fundamental freedoms of the victim and includes violence in close relationships, sexual violence (including rape, sexual assault and harassment), trafficking in human beings, slavery, and different forms of harmful practices, such as forced marriages, female genital mutilation and so-called ‘honour crimes’; whereas women victims of gender-based violence and their children often require special support and protection because of the high risk of secondary and repeat victimisation, of intimidation and of retaliation connected with such violence(10);

H.  whereas EU law requires that Member States must ensure that an equality body is in place to provide independent assistance to victims of harassment and sexual harassment, conduct independent surveys, publish independent reports and make recommendations in matters of employment and vocational training, in the access to and supply of goods and services, and for the self-employed;

I.  whereas sexism, harassment and violence against women in the EU institutions has been reported as very real and widespread(11),(12);

J.  whereas according to the EU-wide FRA study of 2014 entitled ‘Violence against women’, 55 % of women experience bullying and harassment in public spaces and political life, and 32 % in the workplace;

K.  whereas cases of sexual harassment and bullying are significantly under-reported to the authorities;

L.  whereas in social partner organisations women still tend to be under-represented at management level, both at European and national level;

M.  whereas sexual harassment is defined in Article 12a of the EU Staff Regulations(13);

N.  whereas the unequal distribution of power between men and women, gender stereotypes and sexism, including sexist hate speech both offline and online, are root causes of all forms of violence against women that have led to domination over and discrimination against women by men and to the prevention of women’s full advancement;

O.  whereas sexism is not a harmless attitude but can lead to sexual harassment;

P.  whereas politicians, as elected representatives of citizens, have a crucial responsibility to act as positive role models in preventing and combating sexual harassment in society;

1.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to adequately monitor the correct implementation of the EU directives prohibiting harassment on the basis of gender and sexual harassment, and to ensure that in every Member State equality bodies are given a clear mandate and resources to cover the three areas of employment, self-employment and access to goods and services;

2.  Calls on the Commission to assess, exchange and compare the existing best practices of combating sexual harassment in the workplace and to disseminate the results of this assessment as regards the effective measures that Member States could take to encourage companies, social partners and organisations involved in vocational training to prevent all forms of gender-based discrimination, in particular as regards harassment and sexual harassment in the workplace;

3.  Strongly reiterates that all forms of harassment grossly undermine human dignity, but that gender-based forms of violence and discrimination such as sexual harassment are particularly degrading;

4.  Is alarmed that harassment of women online and especially on social media, ranging from unwanted contact, trolling and cyber-bullying to sexual harassment and threats of rape and death, is becoming widespread in our digital society, which also gives rise to new forms of violence against women and girls, such as cyber-bullying, cyber-harassment, the use of degrading images online and the distribution on social media of private photos and videos without the consent of the people involved;

5.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that funding mechanisms for programmes to combat violence against women can be used for awareness raising and to support civil society organisations addressing violence against women, including sexual harassment;

6.  Calls on all Member States who have not already done so to ratify and fully implement the Istanbul Convention without delay;

7.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to speed up negotiations on the ratification and implementation of the Istanbul Convention;

8.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States, in cooperation with EIGE, to improve and promote the collection of relevant disaggregated comparable data on cases of violence, including on sexual harassment, in order to build a common methodology to compare databases and data analysis, thus ensuring a better understanding of the problem, and to raise awareness;

9.  Calls on the Commission to submit a legal act to support Member States in the prevention and suppression of all forms of violence against women and girls and of gender-based violence;

10.  Calls on the Council to activate the passerelle clause by adopting a unanimous decision to identify violence against women and girls (and other forms of gender-based violence) as an area of crime under Article 83(1) of the TFEU;

11.  Calls for better inclusion of women in decision-making processes, in unions and in senior positions of organisations or businesses;

12.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States, together with NGOs, social partners and equality bodies, to step up significant awareness-raising measures as regards the rights of the victims of sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination;

13.  Stresses the urgent need for Member States, employers’ organisations and trade unions to promote awareness of sexual harassment and to support and encourage women to report incidents immediately;

14.  Highlights the central role of all men in committing to change and to ending all forms of harassment and sexual violence, by combating circumstances and structures which enable, even passively, the behaviour that leads to this and challenging any misconduct or inappropriate behaviour; calls on the Member States to actively involve men in awareness-raising and prevention campaigns;

15.  Calls on the President of Parliament and Parliament’s administration:

–  to urgently and thoroughly examine the recent media reports on sexual harassment and abuse in the European Parliament, to share the findings with its Members and to propose adequate measures to prevent new cases;

–  to promote the existence and work of Parliament’s Advisory Committee dealing with complaints of harassment between APAs and Members of Parliament; to reinforce the Staff Advisory Committee for Parliament staff on harassment prevention; to investigate formal cases, to maintain a confidential register of cases over time, and to adopt the best means to ensure zero tolerance at all levels in the institution;

–  to fully support victims in procedures within Parliament and/or with the local police; to activate emergency protection or safeguarding measures where necessary and to fully implement Article 12a of the Staff Regulations, ensuring that cases are fully investigated and disciplinary measures applied;

–  to ensure mandatory training for all staff and Members on respect and dignity at work to ensure that the zero-tolerance approach becomes the norm; to fully engage in awareness-raising campaigns with all Members and services of the administration, with a special focus on groups in the weakest positions, such as trainees, APAs and contract agents, and to set up an institutional network of confidential counsellors to support and advise victims, as is the practice in the Commission;

16.  Calls on all colleagues to support and encourage victims to speak out and report cases of sexual harassment through formal procedures within Parliament’s administration and/or to the police;

17.  Calls on all politicians to act as responsible role models in preventing and combating sexual harassment in parliaments and beyond;

18.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.




OJ L 204, 26.7.2006, p. 23.


OJ L 315, 14.11.2012, p. 57.



Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0073.


Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0050.




See paragraph 17 of the Victims’ Rights Directive:


Directive 2006/54/EC on the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation (recast); Council Directive 2004/113/EC implementing the principle of equal treatment between men and women in the access to and supply of goods and services; Directive 2010/41/EU on the application of the principle of equal treatment between men and women engaged in an activity in a self-employed capacity.



Last updated: 25 October 2017Legal notice