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C 301 E/118 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 5.12.


(2002/C 301 E/123) WRITTEN QUESTION E-1306/02

by Emmanouil Bakopoulos (GUE/NGL) to the Commission

(7 May 2002)

Subject: Sexual harassment

The Commission recently presented a proposal amending Community Directive 1976/207/EEC (1) to bring
sexual harassment, inter alia, within the Union’s sphere of competence. Under the proposal, the Member
States are required, as of 2005, to set up bodies responsible for gender equality and protection from sexual

In the light of the above, will the Commission say what rules apply in respect of sexual harassment within
the institutions of the European Union and whether those institutions are covered by the above proposal
for a directive?

(1) OJ L 39, 14.2.1976, p. 40.

Answer given by Mr Kinnock on behalf of the Commission

(5 July 2002)

In May 1990, the Council adopted a Resolution on the protection of dignity of women and men at
work (1) and addressed it to the Member States and to the Institutions of the Communities. To implement
this Council Resolution in November 1991, the Commission adopted, a Code of Practice (2), which
provided a definition of sexual harassment, set out several measures to be followed in the event of a
complaint, and specified the disciplinary proceedings to be applied under the Staff Regulations. Training in
the prevention of sexual harassment and the treatment of complaints was given to management staff and
human resources personnel as well as to staff with relevant responsibilities such as staff representatives,
social services, medical service, etc.

Neither the Directive nor the proposed amendment to which the Honourable Member refers legally applies
to the Commission (3) but the Commission is politically committed to the principles of equal treatment for
all its officials and preventing sexual harassment in the work place is part of the means achieving them.
Steps have been taken in the Reform process to further ensure that such principles of equal treatment are
upheld and to deter sexual harassment.

Under the Commission’s Reform, new statutory provisions have been proposed to strengthen the
procedures for complaint and the disciplinary action that may be taken under the Staff Regulations. The
proposed modification to the Staff Regulations is in line with the adopted text of the Directive which
provides the following definition:

sexual harassment: where any form of unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual
nature occurs, with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person in particular when
creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.

In addition to the statutory approach to ensuring the equal treatment of its staff, non-statutory proposals
to further help the prevention of sexual harassment are included in a Commission Action Plan on equal
opportunities and flexible working arrangements. It has been drafted on the basis of the Global Package for
the Reform of Personnel Policy of October 2001 and will be submitted to the Commission for adoption in
the near future. The proposals include further revision of the Code of Practice to reflect the revised
definition; improved information and awareness raising for staff, taking into account the multi-cultural
working environment; increased resources for the Central Mediation Service to deal with cases; and
creation of training modules for all new officials and for existing managers in order to raise awareness and
prevent sexual harassment.

(1) OJ C 157, 27.6.1990.

(2) Commission Recommendation 92/131/EEC of 27 November 1991, OJ L 49, 24.2.1992.
(3) Article 249 (ex Article 189) of the EC Treaty.