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European Parliament adopts report on sexual harassment

EU parliament calls for more action to fight sexual harassment

Gender-based violence should be a crime under EU law and sexual harassment criminalised. These are not currently defined and criminalised at EU level, which means that those affected do not have the same rights across different member states. MEPs want a common EU approach.

The European Parliament has adopted a report evaluating what EU institutions and countries have done so far to fight against sexual harassment. The report by 468 votes in favour, 17 against and 125 abstentions. 

The report highlights that in some EU countries there has been little or no progress.

Employers should take measures to provide a safe working environment, taking into account remote working and the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic, say MEPs. Member states should ensure that all workers, at the start of their contract, receive information on anti-harassment procedures and policies in place.

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Since 2018, measures to prevent and tackle harassment in the European Parliament have been strengthened, but MEPs say more needs to be done to raise awareness of reporting procedures and support available to victims to prevent all forms of harassment. Sexual and psychological harassment cases in Parliament are still under-reported, MEPs point out, because victims do not use the existing channels for multiple reasons. 

Procedures in harassment cases can take years, causing unnecessary harm to the victims, they say. 

Parliament’s two advisory committees dealing with harassment complaints should conclude cases brought before them as quickly as possible, and at the latest within six months.

MEPs welcome the anti-harassment training offered in Parliament, but are concerned that only 36.9% of members have attended so far this term – 260 Members out of 705. 

They call for a public list on the Parliament’s website of Members that have completed the training and those who have not.

EU institutions should conduct an external audit on the situation of harassment in their institutions, the text notes, including a review of existing procedures and systems that deal with cases of harassment, to make the outcome of the results public and to make reforms based on these recommendations.

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