Sunday

17th Feb 2019

MEPs demand external probe into parliament sex abuse

  • Female staffers at the EU Parliament risk sexual abuse and harassment by male MEPs (Photo: EUobserver)

A group of MEPs are demanding an external probe into allegations of sexual harassment at the European Parliament following a report of abuse of young female staffers in the Sunday Times newspaper.

The article described the European Parliament as a "hotbed of sex harassment" following revelations a number of male senior MEPs had abused around a dozen female aides.

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Names of the the alleged perpetators have been kept from the public, although the Times newspaper did mention Yves Cochet, a former French environment minister and Green party MEP.

The demand for an external investigation from the five MEPs also calls for a special committee on sexual harassment to help the victims and ensure the assailants are brought to justice.

On Monday (23 October), EU Parliament president Antonio Tajani said that it was "with shock and indignation" that he had learned of the allegations of sexual harassment.

He said people can already report the abuse to a special advisory committee of MEPs and promised "to further increase awareness of the facilities already in place."

The committee has yet to receive any formal complaints but Tajani said the issue would be discussed among group party leaders.

The allegations cited in the Sunday Times are serious.

A senior MEP masturbating in front of a young assistant, a German MEP groping his assistant on her behind, another taking photos and sending them at night.

They are also widespread.

Politico Europe says it has so far collected the testimonies of 87 women and six men.

The news portal has set up a special website to collect more testimonies for those who want to come forward.

Politico notes some of the allegations collected so far include trading sex for legislative favours and work contracts, among others. Over half of them are from people working in NGOs or in the private sector.

Last year, and in a separate case, French liberal MEP Robert Rochefort was arrested for masturbating in public near the presence of children at a hardware store. He pleaded guilty.

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