The European Council has criticised the Brussels State Secretary for Urban Planning Pascal Smet for his comments accusing EU employees of drug use. Smet's allegations were in response to complaints over relocating EU institutions near Brussels' North Station.
Barend Leyts, a spokesperson for the European Council's Belgian President Charles Michel, told Politico on Wednesday that Smet's remarks were "unacceptable," calling for him to "respect for all those in the service of the European Union, especially in these very challenging times internationally."
Smet explained that his comments had been made "in jest" during a closed-door meeting over moving EU buildings from Brussels' Schuman district to the Northern Quarter, near Gare du Nord station.
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The Brussels Minister had been told that many employees felt "unsafe" about moving to Brussels' Northern Quarter, which EU officials attributed to suspected drug dealing in the neighbourhood. Smet responded by alleging that "a lot of people working for the European institutions take drugs."
The European Council's public criticism of Smet comes after an open letter from unions representing EU civil servants sent to European authorities on Friday, calling on Charles Michel to "defend the reputation, the work and the honour of EU officials."
The EU workers union Renouveau & Démocratie, in particular, has urged Smet to "immediately retract his words and apologise to EU employees," describing his comments as "irresponsible and inflammatory."