13th Apr 2024

EU Parliament chief given report on MEP abuse 30 weeks before sanction

  • European Parliament president Roberta Metsola in Bratislava (Photo:
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European Parliament president Roberta Metsola was given the final report of a harassment case more than 30 weeks before she issued a sanction against the accused MEP.

The length of such deliberations is likely to compound anxiety among victims.

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  • Mónica Silvana Gonzalez, socialist Spanish MEP, was sanctioned for harassment of three former assistants (Photo: European Parliament)

Others suffering in silence may also hesitate to issue complaints in the future.

Her spokesperson, in an email on Tuesday (30 May), said Metsola couldn't comment on individual cases given the sensitivity and confidentiality of the matter.

"In all cases, the president ensures that all avenues and procedures are completed to ensure legal certainty and that all legal requirements of the process are safeguarded," he said.

"In different cases this takes a different amount of time," he added.

But European Parliament documents seen by EUobserver say Metsola was on 17 June 2022 given a final report into a harassment case filed against Spanish socialist MEP Mónica Silvana Gonzalez.

It then took Metsola until earlier this year to sanction Gonzalez, who maintains her innocence.

Metsola, in January, said that Gonzalez's behaviour towards her three accredited parliamentary assistants "constituted psychological harassment."

The president then docked Gonzalez her €338 daily allowance for 30 days and temporarily suspended her from participating in parliamentary activities.

The 30-week delay comes on top of a case first initiated against Gonzalez in the summer of 2021, leading to an 18-month ordeal for the parliamentary assistants.

Those 18 months presumably could have been reduced by seven had Metsola acted sooner on the final report by an internal committee dealing with harassment cases in the European Parliament.

Another European Parliament document, also seen by EUobserver, says the committee had handed Metsola a final report on another separate alleged harassment case in early December.

But Metsola has yet to announce anything on the December case.

This comes despite internal EU parliament rules, which say it shouldn't take the president more than six weeks to announce a decision after receiving a final report into a case.

One EU source, who asked not to be named, said such delays are sometimes worsened by scheduling conflicts and the accused MEPs themselves.

The source said the president needs to meet the accused MEPs, who may bring up new information not originally cited in the final report of the committee.

"When they bring up new information that the advisory committee didn't have, the president has to go back to the advisory committee and restart," said the source.

"This back-and-forth can unfortunately take a lot of time," added the source.

Metsola had last November demanded a revision of the procedural harassment rules, last reformed in 2018, in order to speed up the process.

The parliament's Questors, a group of senior MEPs overlooking the financial and administrative interests of their peers, are set to deliver recommendations on the reforms sometime in July.

The recommendations will deal with how to improve mediation, training, and a speeding up of the process.

The Questors in 2016 had made similar recommendations, laying out a roadmap for the introduction of preventive and early support measures.

In a 2017 report, they said that the length of procedures on harassment cases had been reduced from one year to three months.

MEPs in the plenary on Wednesday are also set to discuss sexual harassment in the EU and #MeToo movement.

EUobserver changed the original headline suggesting Metsola 'sat on the case for 30 weeks' at the request of a European Parliament spokesperson and to more accurately reflect the facts of the case.

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