An EU Commission official was forced to delete her social media presence after sharing “false information” about the COVID pandemic, the Telegraph noted.
Serving as the executive branch of the EU, Commission officials are nominally required to maintain strict neutrality regarding criticising national governments. The disciplined employee in question was a female legal officer with the Commission who was forced to delete her Facebook and Instagram accounts for attacking the COVID policy of national governments. She was found to have acted in contravention of the Commission’s Code of Conduct which mandates impartiality towards member states and their governments.
Her social media posts were also flagged as fake news by Facebook and for having broken Article 11 of EU staff guidelines which require employees to stay above national politics and focus solely on the interests and business of the EU.
An EU disciplinary report revealed that the EU only fired three employees last year, despite investigations into professional wrongdoing. All in all, the EU investigated just over 100 cases of professional misconduct last year, according to the 2022 report, including instances of sexual misconduct, racism, and using Commission equipment to view “inappropriate websites.”
One official was given a written warning for helping a family member to jump the queue on COVID vaccination; one was fired for truancy, and another, a male official, was fired for sexual harassment of a female co-worker, leading to an additional penalty of a reduced pension. The number of disciplinary cases jumped 9% since 2021 and included a temporary worker suspended for “fraudulent requests for reimbursements of medical expenses.”
EU institutions employ just over 60,000 people, the majority of which work full or part-time in the Commission and have often been criticised for overly generous employment laws which protect inefficient officials. Speaking to The European Conservative, director of the MCC Brussels think-tank Frank Furedi, who specialises in monitoring Brussels mishaps, described the EU as a “discipline-free zone” in response to the report, adding that officials couldn’t resist bending the rules when required.
The general leniency given to Commission staff was illustrated in the recent case of transport official Henrik Hololei who was not fired but merely relocated to a new department, despite serious accusations of a conflict of interests regarding junkets to Qatar while negotiating an open skies agreement with the Gulf state.