Belgium opens criminal proceedings into claims of harassment at EU body
The Belgian public prosecutor is launching legal proceedings against a senior EU official who stands accused of psychological harassment of colleagues.
The EU’s anti-fraud office (OLAF) in January concluded an investigation into Jacek Krawczyk, who was this month asked to step down as one of three senior presidents at the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC). A confidential OLAF report lists 13 cases of alleged misbehavior, of which two were classified as alleged psychological harassment. Krawczyk denies the allegations.
Psychological harassment can be prosecuted under Belgian law, and OLAF submitted the two cases to Belgian authorities.
In a letter dated June 4, Belgian prosecutor Patricia Nibelle informed EESC President Luca Jahier that she had received “the investigation concerning Jacek Krawczyk on the grounds of psychological harassment in the workplace.”
“I would ask you to note that having read the detailed investigation conducted by OLAF, my office has decided to bring proceedings against Mr. Krawczyk before the Criminal Court of Brussels,” continues the letter, a copy of which was obtained by POLITICO.
Earlier this month, the EESC leadership bureau backed disciplinary measures against Krawczyk.
“For this purpose, I would be grateful if you would confirm that you are waiving the immunity that Mr. Krawczyk enjoys,” it adds.
Nibelle also sent letters to the secretaries-general of the European Commission and Council of the European Union — Ilze Juhansone and Jeppe Tranholm-Mikkelsen — to inform them that “legal action is being taken.”
Earlier this month, the EESC leadership bureau backed disciplinary measures against Krawczyk, formally requesting that he resign from his position as president of the institution’s employers’ group and withdraw his application to become the EESC’s next overarching president. Krawczyk had been the leading candidate to take over the EESC top job in October.
The decision, adopted by a large majority, said the EESC discharges Krawczyk “from all activities involving the management or administration of staff,” according to a document obtained by POLITICO.
The EESC leadership also decided to task its secretary-general with taking “the necessary steps to ensure that, should proceedings be initiated by the [Belgian] prosecutor against Mr. Krawczyk, the EESC shall join those proceedings as a civil party.”
Krawczyk in February denied the allegations via his lawyers, and three officials in the EESC said he had described the investigation against him as a “political campaign.”
In a tweet on June 16, Krawczyk said: “My case is not the first in the history of the EESC in which a presidential candidate for this institution is slandered and accused by a group of officials for acts he hasn’t committed.”
“In 2005 my predecessor was accused and involved in court proceedings — after a few years all ‘charges’ were dismissed by the court,” a second tweet reads. In a third tweet he wrote: “He didn’t become the president after all, but he spent 7 years defending his own good name and elementary justice.”
EESC President Jahier said in an email to the institution’s members that the next EESC plenary in mid-July should decide on waiving Krawczyk’s immunity.