ER Editor: As with Qatargate, we have to ask why this, why now? A fresh (actually, not really) scandal to hit the EU as a governing structure and the culture in which it operates. Investigations into the phenomenon of bullying within the EU Parliament have been going on for four months, apparently. Qatargate began at least in the public eye in December, 2022. A reminder that Ursula von der Leyen’s text messages to Bourla haven’t yet been revealed – still. And the whole secrecy around those heavily redacted Big Pharma contracts persists.
Let’s remember that this is the same group of people who campaign for all the minority ‘woke’ causes such LGBT rights, transgender mutilation, undifferentiated mass immigration … on the vague basis of being compassionate and moral. You couldn’t make this up.
MEPs seem to be the ones causing problems for their staff, male and female alike.
More from the Politico article —
At the heart of the problem is the power dynamic between politicians and the staff employed to service their professional needs. That balance tilts in favor of the MEPs, according to the victims.
“They are masters of their own kingdom. The institutional dynamics actually encourage them to assume that role,” …
When faced with a bullying MEP, one assistant who is now on the cusp of launching a complaint looked for help within the Parliament, but didn’t find any.
According to her, all the services she contacted within the institutions, from counsellors to legal services suggested it would be best for her just to quit, she said. That would have left her unable to claim unemployment benefits, and taking the hit for a situation she believed was not of her making. “How is this not fucked up?” she asked.
“They don’t protect victims. They don’t protect witnesses,” said an official who acted as a witness in a case. “It’s a fucking committee composed of MEPs. They want to protect themselves.”
We remind readers of a piece by Martin Jay from March of this years —
What is the point, indeed. It feels like the house of cards is almost ready to topple. Especially if we add support for Ukraine into the mix.
Witnesses and victims, who were granted anonymity to speak candidly, described feeling “physically and mentally dead” or even suicidal as a result of harassment, and suffering anxiety and sleep deprivation as they waited for several months — or longer — for their complaints to be processed. One likened the experience of the delays to waiting like “prisoners on death row.”
Some insiders said the scale of bullying within the headquarters of EU democracy was “out of control” while others alleged they had suffered sexual harassment and said “mind games” were rife.
Often, it was easier to keep quiet — and some victims said they were advised they should just quit.
“Staff fear filing the complaints because the process is very stressful for the victims,” said Marcel Kolaja, an MEP from the Czech Pirate Party. “I don’t think they have confidence in the process.”
Roberta Metsola, the president of the European Parliament, has ordered an internal overhaul designed to rapidly improve the process for handling harassment claims. But after repeated calls to reform went unheeded, campaigners, victims and concerned MEPs are now worried the chance will be missed yet again.
On Thursday, MEPs backed demands to tighten the rules and streamline the procedure for dealing with alleged maltreatment, including both sexual and psychological harassment. It remains to be seen whether meaningful action will follow.
POLITICO’s investigation, based on conversations with 37 individuals with direct knowledge of the processes, revealed:
— A process that’s seen as off-putting to victims, biased in favor of MEPs, subject to lengthy and unexplained delays, and leading only to weak sanctions for wrongdoing.
— In the years from 2019 to 2021, authorities opened 34 new cases of sexual or psychological harassment at the parliament.
— But reliable data showing the full scale of the problem either does not exist or is being kept secret by the authorities, despite multiple requests for details.
— Just 281 out of 705 MEPs have taken the voluntary anti-harassment training since 2019.
— While there’s no average time for processing a complaint, it can take as long as two years for a harassment case to conclude.
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