As Westminster continues to grapple with the fallout from yet another sexual harassment scandal, an investigation on the continent has found it is by no means the only parliament to struggle with abusive behaviour. A report by Politico describes a “culture of indifference” towards harassment in the European Parliament, with victims left feeling “physically and mentally dead”. In the words of one staffer, “Everybody knows that the situation of members harassing their staff is out of control”.
Despite this, the complaints procedure is inadequate, biased to MEPs and beset by long delays. Between 2019 and 2021, authorities have opened 34 investigations into sexual or psychological harassment, however reliable data into the full-scale of the situation has not been made available. Just two MEPs have been censured for bullying since 2019, with two more known to be under investigation, though these cases to have been made public barely scratch the surface. Politico spoke to nine staffers undergoing anti-harassment procedures, seven alleged victims who were yet to lodge formal complaints and five witnesses to alleged harassment.