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POLITICO's EU Confidential

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From Brussels and around the Continent — the top European politics podcast.


Episode 19: Harassment discussion — Hope for change — Maroš Šefčovič interview

Episode 19 of EU Confidential features a special discussion on the issue of sexual harassment and assault in the EU Brussels bubble.

The podcast also includes an interview with European Commission Vice President for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič, in which we discuss everything from batteries to Brexit.

Harassment allegations: Joanna Maycock from the European Women's Lobby explains why she thinks the wave of recent allegations can lead to positive change. Host Ryan Heath and panelist Ailbhe Finn talk about the times they experienced sexual harassment and assault. Together with Lina Aburous, they discuss an alleged rape case involving two European Parliament staff, resulting in the alleged perpetrator leaving their job.

Point of no return: “It's not just in Brussels, right? It's everywhere.” Maycock said, after decades of trying to “shine a light” on the problem that she calls a “massive structural issue.” She hopes “the outpouring of testimony means that it's a wake-up call that it's a kind of point of no return, that actually things have to be done.”

Clear rules, training needed: “The European institutions need to be really clear with all staff what constitutes sexual harassment and harassment in the workplace so that nobody can claim that they don't understand what it is or can try and use some kind of cultural relativism as an excuse for what is effectively illegal behavior,” Maycock said.

Who gets punished? “The negative consequences of being a victim of sexual harassment (or) sexual violence are far greater and the negative consequences on the perpetrator,” said Maycock, who believes “we need to have systems which put the onus on believing in supporting people who come forward with allegations."

In the second part of the podcast, Commissioner Šefčovič talks about his career as a Slovak diplomat and his work as one of the EU’s longest-serving commissioners.

What he wishes he knew on Day 1 as a Commissioner: “You have to be really patient, you'll have to work on different levels … you have to repeat and repeat and repeat it and convince your peers and in the end it works.”

EU Energy Union: If you believe the EU gospel, the first article of faith is the EU single market. We talk to Šefčovič, about the gaps in that market, and why it matters that the EU project, which started as a coal and steel community, still doesn’t have a complete energy market.

Spoiler alert: his keywords are climate and competitiveness.
Commissions compared: Šefčovič also reveals the big differences between the Barroso and Juncker Commissions.

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