Monday

16th Jul 2018

EU campaigners cry foul on sexual harassment

  • Tajani was not in Brussels for International Women's Day (Photo: European Parliament)

Campaigners are claiming the head of the European Parliament does not care enough about women's rights.

They cried foul on social media and in comments to press on Thursday (8 March), International Women's Day, as part of the wider #MeToo movement against sexual harassment, which began last year in the US.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

The group of MEPs, led by German Green Terry Reintke, had wanted to hand the EU parliament head, Antonio Tajani, a petition on Thursday signed by more than 120,000 people calling for a crackdown on abuse against women in EU institutions.

But Tajani was not there to accept it because he was in Madrid.

"President Tajani did not take time today to receive the more than 121,000 signatures calling to stop sexual harassment in the @Europarl_EN! #metooEU," Reintke said on Twitter.

She told EUobserver: "He cancelled the handing over of the collected signatures … on International Women's day. Regarding the relevance that the topic of sexual harassment has and the little progress we have seen in the past months, I find this unacceptable".

Politicians often use agenda excuses to get out of things they do not want to do.

In this case, the #MeToo campaigners used Tajani's agenda to give the impression that he had snubbed them on the big day.

But the details of the story painted the 64-year old conservative Italian in a less negative light.

Reintke told EUobserver that Tajani's office had informed her already on 1 March that he would be in Madrid and unable to accept the petition in Brussels on International Women's Day.

Tajani's office said the same on 5 March, at the start of this week, when the #MeToo group checked in to see if anything had changed.

Reintke, who was herself a victim of sexual harassment in the EU assembly, now aims to set a new date for the handover of the petition.

Her appeal includes demands to set up a central complaints office for reporting harassment cases for all EU institutions and greater accountability for perpetrators.

"I have been sexually harassed, just like millions of other women in the European Union," she said at an EU parliament debate on the issue last October.

She and four other MEPs, at the time, called on Tajani to order an independent audit on the extent of sexual harassment in the EU parliament and to create a "special dedicated committee" on the issue.

But there has been little action on the subject since then, as Tajani ponders whether to quit his EU post to return to Italian politics with the Forza Italia party of former Italian leader Silvio Berlusconi, a notorious sexist, who fell from power amid revelations that he had used underage prostitutes.

Investigation

Commission accused of cherry picking job applicants

A pilot project scheme is giving preferential treatment for interns to land highly sought-after jobs at the European Commission - bypassing the lengthy open competition for everyone else seeking the same position.

Exclusive

How eight MEPs overruled 540 colleagues on office expenses

The EU parliament spends €40m a year on a lump sum for MEPs' expenses with barely any scrutiny. A majority of parliamentarians called for more transparency - but a handful of powerful MEPs mostly dismissed that request.

Investigation

Commission accused of cherry picking job applicants

A pilot project scheme is giving preferential treatment for interns to land highly sought-after jobs at the European Commission - bypassing the lengthy open competition for everyone else seeking the same position.

News in Brief

  1. VW owners to get diesel software update free until 2020
  2. Airbnb breaches EU consumer rules, Commission says
  3. EU sees no China free-trade talks
  4. Italy accepts migrant boat after help promises
  5. EU opens case on Siemens' Alstom buyout
  6. Trump: May found my Brexit advice 'too brutal'
  7. Italy will reject EU-Canada trade deal, says deputy PM
  8. Commission: Juncker suffered from sciatica attack at Nato

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Latest News

  1. EU and China agree on words, not yet on action
  2. EU is 'foe', as Trump seeks to make friends with Putin
  3. Let's not be 'naive' with Chinese partner, says senior MEP
  4. Trump, trade, and Brexit in EU headlines This WEEK
  5. EU and China edge closer in Trump's 'America First' world
  6. How the World Cup exposed Russian chauvinism
  7. Stage set for Trump-Putin finale
  8. Trump scuppers trade deal with UK under May's Brexit

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us