‘A lot of people working for the European institutions take drugs’ – Brussels politician mocks EU workers reluctant to move to crime-prone neighborhood

There is also the irony of pro-migrant and pro-refugee EU staffers protesting being moved into a migrant-heavy neighborhood

editor: REMIX NEWS
author: John Cody

EU workers are protesting being moved to a crime-prone neighborhood in Brussels, but one Brussels politician snapped back during a closed-door meeting, saying that EU workers and politicians enjoy doing drugs anyway. Therefore, they should have no objections about being in a neighborhood known for its bustling drug trade.

“A lot of people working for the European institutions take drugs,” said Pascal Smet, who serves as secretary of state for urban planning and European and international relations in the Brussels region. He made the comment on Jan. 23 during a meeting with the European Commission’s Office for Infrastructure and Logistics in Brussels (OIB), which oversees housing for EU staff.

Smet was responding to criticism from trade unions representing EU workers, who are lobbying against a plan to move part of the EU’s staff to Noorderwijk, which is close to the Brussels-North Station in the migrant-heavy neighborhood of Schaerbeek.

Smet is pushing for European institutions to move to the area around North Station, which the city of Brussels is looking to invest in. According to him, it would be ideal if the European Commission first moved its members to a building in the neighborhood by the end of 2023.

The unions object to this proposal, arguing that EU workers would be exposed to higher crime levels and drug activity in Noorderwijk. Smet was, however, dismissive of these arguments, saying that the EU’s staff members and politicians are indulging in drugs themselves, making it hypocritical to pass judgment on people in the neighborhood. He also indicated that cocaine is popular with EU workers.

“Drugs are being dealt in the Schuman district, and probably not the same drugs as in the Noorderwijk, but a bit whiter,” he said, referring to cocaine. The Schuman district is where the majority of European institutions are currently located.

Representatives of the Renouveau & Démocratie union were unhappy with the remarks.

“I don’t understand what he was thinking when he made this remark,” said union president Cristiano Sebastiani.

When asked by Politico what he meant by the statements, Smet responded that they were made partly in jest.

“I just said that there are other places in the city where drugs are being dealt. We are one city. There are no neighborhoods that belong to Brussels residents and neighborhoods that belong to Europeans,” he said.

EU staff complaining about moving to a diverse neighborhood?

The irony of pro-migrant and pro-refugee EU staffers protesting being moved into the migrant-heavy neighborhood of Schaerbeek is not lost on critics. Many of the EU’s policies have led to the situation facing Brussels. In the area of the Brussels-North Train Station, Schaerbeek Mayor Cécile Jodogne said the crime situation is “no longer tenable,” according to a report from the Brussels Times.

“Drug dealing, homelessness, harassment of women, sex work and overall crime have reached levels that law enforcement struggle to deal with,” according to a report from Bruzz.

“The local cops have to fill in for the absent railway police, the Immigration Office does not foresee a solution for underage or problematic transmigrants, and soon the migrants will sleep in the cold again,” the mayor told journalists from Bruzz.

Schaerbeek has one of the largest shares of migrants in Brussels, with the majority of the Muslim population of Moroccan origin — which is the same population that rioted throughout Brussels following several victories for the Moroccan national team during the World Cup. The neighborhood features high rates of unemployment and poverty; however, the area is threatened by a wave of gentrification, which is likely to only accelerate if European institutions and their workers are moved into the area.

Cocaine use in the EU parliament?

In 2005, a control of 46 toilets in the European Parliament by a German TV magazine found that 41 revealed traces of cocaine. Furthermore, the amount of cocaine found on the toilets was so high, that it revealed the MEP’s toilets see regular usage of cocaine. The researchers found so much cocaine residue on one toilet that it implied that the user had just finished snorting the drug shortly before the sample was taken.

However, MEPs themselves have their own personal toilets in each of their offices, which means any EU workers who may have been involved with cocaine use in the bathrooms were most likely younger staff members of the MEPs.

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