Thursday

22nd Oct 2020

MEPs urge Strasbourg sex trade pledge

A group of mostly left-leaning Nordic MEPs have in a letter urged the European Parliament to only patronise Strasbourg hotels that pledge not to tolerate use of prostitutes, with one French NGO swiftly welcoming the "symbolic gesture."

"[We] strongly propose that the EU parliament without delay follow the Nordic Council and decide that the EU parliament only use hotels that issue a guarantee that the hotel is not involved in the sex trade, and that all staff have written guidelines on this issue," the letter, addressed to parliament President Hans-Gert Poettering and signed by 37 MEPs, says.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Nordic MEPs want their colleagues to only patronise prostitute-free hotels in Strasbourg (Photo: Karin Beate Nøsterud/norden.org)

The Danish, Swedish and Finnish deputies mostly come from the Socialist, Liberal and Green factions in the parliament and include former Danish Prime Minister and the current president of the European Party of Socialists, Poul Nyrup Rasmussen.

Two conservative MEPs, Sweden's Charlotte Cederschiold and Finnish deputy Eija-Riitta Korhola, also joined the initiative.

The Copenhagen-based Nordic Council was founded in 1952 as a forum for Nordic parliamentary co-operation. It adopted the measure on prostitution and hotels in 2006.

Prostitution is legal in Denmark and Finland. It is also legal to sell sex in Sweden but against the law to buy it.

"The background for this decision is of course the growing understanding of the harm that prostitution causes for the people involved in prostitution as well as the role of prostitution in organised crime," the Nordic MEPs said, noting the "praxis of many hotels as providers of sex trade with humans, as if they were dealing with an ordinary commodity."

There is plenty of anecdotal material that some well-paid European Parliament workers and MEPs, away from their partners for the week, pay for sex during the monthly plenary session in Strasbourg. But evidence is scarce.

Hotels deny they would ever help a guest find a prostitute, while some smaller guest-houses exclude prostitutes who normally live with them in order not to put off EU clientele during the plenary sessions.

"We don't have a demand for such services. If clients don't demand a service we don't offer it. It's possible it may happen. But it doesn't happen here," the manager of one large Strasbourg hotel told EUobserver. "If a guest brought back somebody, they would be very discreet."

The Strasbourg office of French anti-sex trade NGO Mouvement du Nid said the European Parliament has no impact on levels of street prostitution.

"The parliamentarians are not interested in street prostitutes. They prefer escort girls, call girls of a slightly higher level. They find little adverts and make telephone calls. That's how they take care of business," the NGO's Isabelle Collot said.

"This is very hard to measure. It's not public - prostitution is illegal in France. But if [the MEPs] have written this letter, it means the problem must exist. It's a symbolic gesture but it could start a useful debate."

"Not all men are clients," Ms Collot added. "I hope there are still some faithful [European] deputies, for the sake of their wives."

Spain's Sanchez in storm over judicial appointments bill

Spain's socialist-led coalition has proposed changing how members of the country's top judicial body, the General Council of the Judiciary, are appointed - triggering a political and judicial storm about the independence, and drawing 'double standards' complaints from Poland.

Corruption failures also highlighted in rule of law report

The European Commission's first report on the rule of law has raised concerns over the lack of effective anti-corruption efforts in some members sates - while it considers Denmark, Finland, Sweden and the Netherlands have good governance measures.

News in Brief

  1. Commission to press Croatia on migrant 'abuse' at border
  2. Belarus opposition awarded 2020 Sakharov Prize
  3. Belgium's foreign minister in intensive care for Covid-19
  4. MEPs restrict CAP funding for bullfighting
  5. Coronavirus: Liège is 'the Lombardy of the second wave'
  6. UK to keep out EU nationals with criminal past
  7. Report: EU to restrict travel from Canada, Tunisia, Georgia
  8. Pope Francis supports same-sex civil unions

Corruption failures also highlighted in rule of law report

The European Commission's first report on the rule of law has raised concerns over the lack of effective anti-corruption efforts in some members sates - while it considers Denmark, Finland, Sweden and the Netherlands have good governance measures.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersUN Secretary General to meet with Nordic Council on COVID-19
  3. UNESDAWell-designed Deposit Return Schemes can help reach Single-Use Plastics Directive targets
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  6. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity

Latest News

  1. Nato and EU silent on Turkey, despite Armenia's appeal
  2. EU tells UK to decide on Brexit as deal 'within reach'
  3. EU farming deal attacked by Green groups
  4. France vows tough retaliation for teacher's murder
  5. All eyes on EU court for decision on religious slaughter
  6. 'Big majority' of citizens want EU funds linked to rule of law
  7. EU declares war on Malta and Cyprus passport sales
  8. EU Commission's Libya stance undercut by internal report

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us