Harassment of the European Economic and Social Committee: the Belgian public prosecutor refers the matter to the Criminal Court in Brussels

Brussels, 7 July 2020

Note to the attention of Mr Gianluca Brunetti

Secretary General of the European Economic and Social Committee

Subject:         Harassment of the European Economic and Social Committee: the Belgian public prosecutor refers the matter to the Criminal Court in Brussels

Ref:               My note of June 17, 2020 (https://www.renouveau-democratie.eu/2020/06/decision-of-the-eesc-bureau-of-10-june-2020-concerning-cases-of-harassment/)

My note of 15 May 2020 (https://www.renouveau-democratie.eu/fr/2020/05/Harassment at the EESC : R&D has denounced it – OLAF has confirmed it – EP refuses the 2018 discharge to the EESC! Never seen before !)

My note of March 3, 2020 (https://www.renouveau-democratie.eu/2020/03/eesc-refusal-by-the-parliaments-committee-on-budgetary-control-cont/)

My note of 11 February 2020 (https://www.renouveau-democratie.eu/2020/02/harassment-at-the-eesc/)

My note of 28 January 2020 (www.renouveau-democratie.eu/2020/01/olaf-report-on-several-cases-of-harassment-at-the-european-economic-and-social-committee-eesc/)

My note of 13 May 2019 (www.renouveau-democratie.eu/2019/05/new-organizational-chart-of-the-eesc-note-for-the-attention-of-mr-luca-jahier/)

My note of 12 April 2019 (https://www.renouveau-democratie.eu/fr/2019/04/note-a-lattention-de-m-luca-jahier/)

My note of 12 February 2019 (http://www.renouveau-democratie.eu/fr/2019/02/note-a-lattention-de-mm-jahier-et-brunetti-harcelement-au-cese/)

My note of 17 December 2018 (http://www.renouveau-democratie.eu/2018/12/note-for-the-attention-of-mr-brunetti-management-of-harassment-cases-in-eesc-2/)

My note of 26 November 2018 (http://www.renouveau-democratie.eu/fr/2018/11/absence-dune-veritable-politique-de-gestion-des-cas-de-harcelement-au-sein-des-institutions/)

With the referral to the Belgian Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Brussels criminal court dated June 04, 2020, the “EESC case” takes a new step!.

A new step was taken in June in the treatment of proven cases of harassment to the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) with the referral by the Belgian Public Ministry to the criminal court of Brussels (link).

As R&D reported in its previous notes to you, events have followed one another.

The Belgian Public Prosecutor’s Office has informed the EESC, as well as the Commission and the Council, at their highest level, that it is bringing criminal proceedings against the perpetrator and has requested the lifting of the immunity of Mr Krawczyk.

It will be up to the EESC to respond to this request for waiver of immunity

On the one hand, Mr. Krawczyk naturally benefits from the presumption of innocence and has all the rights, the faculty and the means to defend himself by having recourse to the arguments that he considers appropriate to invoke including on internal responsibilities within the EESC, which he would seem to want now to report on.

On the other hand, R&D takes note of this new stage, which confirms the gravity of the facts, which we had denounced, and all the lack of merit of the assurances that you have always claimed. A new step is thus taken in this case where the EESC is already confronted to an overwhelming report from OLAF and the EP’s refusal of the 2018 discharge.

The reality, now, FINALLY appears in broad daylight: silence has an end and, in this, R&D is pleased that finally the gravity of the facts is recognized. It was time.

However, R&D is not happy with the situation: how much would it have taken for the case to be serious enough to get there?

The didactic and dissuasive effect of the EESC case vis-à-vis all other institutions and Agencies

We are convinced that this case and the extent of its consequences, both disciplinary and judicial, for the person concerned and political for the institution under scrutiny, will clearly have a dissuasive effect, will encourage the victims to defend their rights, will help to put an end to the climate of impunity which has already lasted for too long, to break the detestable law of silence and to prevent harassment and other inappropriate behaviour also within other institutions and Agencies.

Indeed, the lessons to be learned from the “EESC case” regarding the management of cases of harassment and other inappropriate behavior are very clear:

  • no institution can cultivate the illusion of keeping such cases within it,
  • on the basis of complaints presented by victims duly assisted and advised by specialists from the staff representation, as has happened in this case for R&D, investigations can be carried out by OLAF with all professionalism and indipendence demonstrated by these services and not managed and often covered up with “in-house” investigations, carried out by “investigators” who are just as “in-house”, who do not meet the same requirements of professionalism and independence, who do not offer the necessary guarantees as the European Ombudsman has recalled so well in her communication ( Point 30: “For investigations to be effective, investigators need not only to be impartial and fair, but also perceived as such by everyone concerned in the investigation”, read the report).
  • these investigations may also affect “powerful” people who until then had been considered “untouchable”,
  • on the basis of the results of an OLAF investigation, the EP can refuse discharge to the institution concerned and
  • criminal proceedings can be initiated directly by the national judge.

We are still waiting for your answers to our questions…

However, R&D is still waiting for the answers to the many questions (which I have been asking you for weeks or even months through my notes cited as references) and your deafening silence as well as President Jahier’s remain a question on its own.

And we add a new question…

We want to add to the questions already asked, another point.

By its decision of last June 10, the EESC office decided, among other things:

“requests Mr Jacek Krawczyk, President of the Employers’ group, to: withdraw from all staff management responsibilities”

May we ask you whether this decision has already been implemented or whether, on the contrary, the colleagues concerned continue to be placed under the direct responsibility of Mr Krawczyk?

Legal proceedings will continue, but much remains to be clarified within EESC…

Indeed, the slightest doubt concerning the gravity of the facts denounced by R&D having been definitively dispelled, it is now imperative to FINALLY shed light on the internal failings and responsibilities of the EESC.

Indeed, it is only because OLAF made an overwhelming report and the EP refused the 2018 discharge that, finally, the EESC stopped giving the impression of playing the pro deo lawyer for Krawczyk, acknowledged the gravity of the facts denounced by R&D and voted for sanctions with regard to one of its members and not just anyone since this one, member of the EESC since 2010, had chaired the Employers’ Group since 2014 and had run for his nomination for the presidency of the EESC.

It is faced with the inaction of EESC’s administration, which haslimited itself to constantly declining empty slogans, to boasting of so-called zero tolerances, even daring to pose as an example and even as a “pioneer” vis-à-vis, other institutions… that it was necessary for the victims supported by R&D to finally approach OLAF to have their reasons finally recognized.

The same reasons that they had been unable to put forward in the EESC.

In short, it was because we did not give up in face of injustice and iniquity and because we acted with persistence, together with the victims, that the proceedings were able to be initiated.

Under these conditions, in view of your responsibilities within the EESC, as Director of Human Resources since 2010 and Secretary-General since 2018, we are entitled to ask you for the umpteenth time to explain how facts of such gravity have been able to take place for so long without the EESC and its administration being able to prevent, notice and put an end to them.

By way of example, the exceptional mobility rate for staff assigned to Group I over the past seven years should have prompted the EESC administration to intervene by investigating the reasons behind it.

Just as it should have been obvious that the decision to hand over to the Presidents of EESC’s groups total responsibility for all aspects of personnel policy concerning the colleagues placed at their disposal could only encourage such abuses. This was all the more so with an administration which in the eyes of colleagues seemed to have been reduced – or worse, indulging – in its role of simple kingpin called to obediently carry out the wishes of these Members.

The far-reaching reforms requested by the EP to the EESC are they real changes or “«For everything to stay the same, everything must change” ?

Concerning the far-reaching reforms requested by the EP, the EESC cannot be the scene for the staging of a painful parody of the “The Leopard”.

After all your positions and your assurances concerning the exemplary nature of internal harassment-related procedures, we imagine the embarrassment of being now obliged to implement the recommendations of the EP concerning, in particular the far-reaching reform of these same procedures … that the facts confirmed to be “entirely irreproachable”, as you have always claimed!

It is worth recalling that even after the OLAF report was tabled, you dared to continue to claim that the EESC was still “at the forefront of promoting a respectful working environment” and that it would only be a matter of “maintaining our current efforts”.

Not forgetting that, following the European Parliament’s refusal to adopt the EESC’s 2018 discharge, you explained to your staff that the current crisis was proof that the European Parliament would be the “big bad wolf” (sic!) that wants to eat the “poor sheep”, namely the EESC.  

However, it is essential that this brings about an actual profound change at all levels, starting with the functioning of the administration of the EESC, and not a simple formal make-up effort to meet the demands of the EP, collect the discharge and then start again as if nothing had happened.

In short, there can be no question of “For everything to stay the same, everything must change”! 1

Conclusion

Defending staff: this is our mission, our raison d’être, and today we welcome the first results obtained.

We will naturally continue to follow this file and to assist the victims of harassment and of inappropriate behaviour so that their rights are finally recognized.

And we remain at the complete disposal of all the other colleagues who would like to call upon our assistance.

Much remains to be done and we will do it with even greater determination.

Cristiano Sebastiani,

President

CC.

Mr Jahier, President of the EESC

Mr Krawczyk, President of group I of EESC

Mr Mallia, acting President of group I of EESC

Mr Ropke President of Group II of EESC

Mr Metzler President of group III of EESC

Mrs Angelova, Group I, Vice-President of the EESC, responsible for CAF (Commission for budgetary and financial affairs)

Members of the EESC

Mr Sassoli, President of the EP

Mrs Hohlmeier, President, Vice-Presidents, and Members of the Budgetary Control Committee of the European Parliament

Mrs O’Reilly, European Ombudsman

Mr Tranholm-Mikkelsen, Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union

Mrs Juhansone, Secretary-General of the European Commission

Mr Itälä, Director General of OLAF

Mrs Nicolaie, IDOC Director

Staff of the Institutions

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 1 «For everything to stay the same, everything must change », https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Leopard

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