A senior EU official accused of psychological harassment and serious misconduct retaliated by taking legal action against the institution he works for.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has been rocked by allegations against Jacek Krawczyk, one of the three group chairmen of the European body. In January, the EU’s Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) concluded an investigation into Krawczyk, finding several suspected cases of misconduct.
On Wednesday, a plenary session of the EESC – an EU advisory body bringing together employers ‘, workers’ and civil society organizations – decided to lift Krawczyk’s immunity.
The move follows a request from Belgian prosecutor Patricia Nibelle, who announced last month that her office would prosecute Krawczyk in the Brussels Criminal Court. Nibelle said the criminal proceedings were based on a “detailed investigation” by OLAF into “psychological harassment in the workplace”.
But Krawczyk is retaliating by launching legal action against the EESC which also appears to target OLAF and the European Parliament, which has looked into the harassment allegations as part of its annual budget surveillance.
A draft Parliament report published last week states that Krawczyk “has taken legal action before the Court of Justice of the European Union, alleging illegal behavior by OLAF and Parliament, while the action is formally against the [European Economic and Social Committee]. “
“We are aware of a legal action which has been brought against the EESC,” said EESC spokesperson Daniela Vincenti, adding that “seems to be the intention of the complainant” to also target OLAF and the Parliament. She declined to comment on the content of the trial.
The court register says the case has been brought on June 18 in an anonymous format, which means Krawczyk’s name does not appear in official documents. A court official said it was an option complainants could choose under EU data protection laws, and added that the case should be dealt with by the General Court, the second legal body. highest in the EU.
OLAF and the European Parliament said they could not comment on the allegations of “illegal behavior” against them, as mentioned in Parliament’s draft report. They said, however, that they were not aware of any lawsuits brought directly against them.
Krawczyk did not respond to repeated requests for comment. In February, he said via his lawyers that he denies the harassment allegations.
The lawsuit hits the EESC as it hopes to move beyond the multi-year scandal involving Krawczyk, first reported by POLITICO in December 2018, and seeks to gain more influence and visibility with institutions of the EU through its participation in the conference on the future of Europe.
Last month, the EESC leadership formally asked Krawczyk to step down as chairman of the institution’s Employers’ Group and step down as candidate to be the next EESC supreme president in an election in October. He is the only candidate for this post.
However, the Polish MEP also opposes these disciplinary measures: three EESC members said Krawczyk did not respond to requests and instead asked to wait until September, as he is currently on leave from disease.
“We can unfortunately only notice that [Krawczyk’s] the line of defense is to delay any decision, ”wrote a group of seven EESC members of the Employers’ Group, chaired by Krawczyk, in an internal letter dated 26 June seen by POLITICO. “In doing so, it exposes the entire Committee and our Employers’ group in particular to the risk of losing their respectability and credibility.”
On Tuesday Stefano Mallia, who heads the Employers’ Group during Krawczyk’s absence, wrote to the Polish MP to tell him that he had until July 21 to “consider” withdrawing his candidacy for the EESC presidency.