Eurocrats should go hang themselves, according to stickers placed last week on the cars of staff working in Brussels for the European Union institutions.
Three staff unions representing EU civil servants sent a letter to Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council, on Monday (30 April) warning that incidents of anti-EU aggression were increasingly alarming. They want the EU institutions to work with the Belgian authorities to increase protection for EU employees.
Last week, EU civil servants found stickers on their cars that read, “Eurocrate, sers-toi de ta cravate” (Eurocrat, make use of your tie). The stickers showed a caricature of a man hanging by his tie. It appears cars with special licence plates for EU officials are possibly being targeted, the unions said. Other ‘anti-Eurocrat' stickers and flyers have been left on cars at commuter railway stations on the outskirts of Brussels.
“It is now obvious that the next steps will be physical injuries,” said the letter to Van Rompuy from the Union Syndicale, Federation of European Civil Servants and Renouveau & Démocratie.
A month ago a group of about ten activists surrounded people getting out of the metro at the Schuman station in the morning and, according to the unions, engaged in “physical intimidation and verbal abuse”. The activists spray-painted the station walls with the phrase “Eurocrats de merde” and distributed leaflets telling workers to stop working for the EU institutions.
The anonymous leaflets, in French, complained both about the austerity regime being imposed on Europe and the displacement of native Brussels residents as the EU institutions buy more buildings.
Metro operator STIB and the local police said they were not alerted to the intimidation that took place on the train platform, although STIB cleaned the graffiti after local media remarked that it sent a negative image of Brussels as a European capital. The police have been notified by the European Commission about the threatening stickers circulated last week and are investigating the matter.
Reflection of media attacks
The unions warned Van Rompuy that hostility to the EU and its workers was being fed by some member state governments and media.
Union Syndicale president Günther Lorenz told European Voice that aggression toward EU workers always comes in waves “when we're in the media”. “Now, with the reform of staff regulations, some media are using this as a new pretext to attack us,” he said
In their letter to Van Rompuy, the unions note that in the past such aggression toward EU staff has been sporadic, but has increased over the past year. The unions blame vilification of ‘Brussels' by national governments and unfavourable media coverage of the ongoing staff pay negotiations.
People involved in the staff pay negotiations should “exercise the greatest possible circumspection in their communications with the press so that the media do not disseminate hasty, ill-informed generalisations which can later be easily exploited by populist associations whose only motive is to...make the European civil service a scapegoat,” the unions told Van Rompuy.