EU staff may face the sack over their
bit on the side - a Brussels 'red light' hotel
A sex hotel owned by two European Commission employees has caused
intense embarrassment for the Brussels authorities, who were unaware
of the pair's outside business interests.
The EC has begun disciplinary proceedings against the employees, an
Italian and a Greek, for allegedly bringing the commission into
disrepute over their involvement with the Studio Europe. The hotel,
in one of Brussels' most notorious red light districts, rents rooms
by the hour to prostitutes and their clients.
Carmela L.G., an assistant in the budget ministry, and her
associate, Georges T., a porter in the employment ministry, are
expected to appear before the commission's disciplinary board within
the next month.
They face charges of breaching the commission's employee statute,
which says that outside activities must be "compatible with the
interests of the institution".
Together with another man, Ali A.M., who is understood to be
Ms L.G. companion, they own the seedy establishment on Rue
des Commercants, although they do not officially manage it. Dozens
of prostitutes walk the pavements of the neighbourhood night and day.
Studio Europe charges 13 euros (£8.80) an hour for rooms equipped
with a bathroom, mirrors, and a purple light.
The commission's embarrassing link to Studio Europe came to light
after its two employees boasted that they had well-placed European
Union connections during a fraught meeting of a local residents'
The meeting was called to discuss ways of tackling the growing
prostitution problem. Families in the "Flemish Theatre" quarter, 15
minutes' walk from the centre of Brussels, often complain that
female relatives and friends are accosted by men looking for sex.
According to some residents, Ms L.G. and Mr T. disrupted
the meeting. "They were very aggressive," said a committee member
who asked to be identified only as Valerie.
"They were screaming that they worked for the European Commission
and had the right contacts." After the meeting, the incident was
reported to commission authorities.
A Belgian MEP, Bart Staes, took up the residents' complaints. "While
the two bureaucrats are only officially owners, not managers, their
presence at the residents' meeting indicates that they are conscious
of the use made of their property," Mr Staes wrote to Siim Kallas,
the EU commissioner with responsibility for internal administration,
also claiming that the pair had tried to intimidate the residents.
Mr Kallas replied that their actions could breach article 12 of the
statute, which says that Eurocrats must obtain permission before
engaging in any outside activity. While the hotel is a legitimate
business, the statute states that "an official shall refrain from
any action or behaviour which might reflect adversely upon his
A preliminary hearing decided that there were grounds for
disciplinary proceedings. If they are found to have breached the
statute, sanctions could range from a warning to a cut in pay or
pension rights and dismissal.
Last week it was not possible to contact either of them at the
commission, where both are still employed, or on home telephone
numbers. Staff at Studio Europe claimed never to have heard of them.
In a local newspaper the two employees denied using threatening
language at the residents' meeting.
This is not the first time that Ms L.G. has crossed swords
with her employer. In April she began court proceedings against the
EC under the same article of the same statute.
She claimed, according to European Court of Justice documents, that
she suffered from "moral harassment", allegedly proven in e-mails.
She is seeking damages of 100,000 euros.
© Sunday Telegraph 2005
- 25th of September 2005
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