THE EU STAFF LABELLED AS DRUG ADDICTS!
R&D defending the staff in all institutions answers your questions!
Reminder of the facts
The relocation of the executive Agencies to the North Light building in the Brussels Northern District has been firmly rejected by the staff and their representatives underlying among other things, the increasing feeling of INSECURITY in the Northern district.
The request to STOP THE MOVE was supported through a petition, which received several thousands of signatures and the formal opposition of the Directors of the Executive Agencies and of the entire parent DGs.
Instead of providing credible answers, OIB has accused staff representatives of artificially dramatizing the security concerns, which are undeniable, and even of making irresponsible comments, creating an unjustified climate of fear among staff.
Nevertheless, in order to address these issues in an informed manner, the OIB convened a meeting on 23 January with Pascal Smet. State Secretary for mobility and public works at the Brussels-Capital Region, responsible for urbanism and the city planning.
The intolerable insults of Pascal Smet!
During this meeting chaired by Marc Bequet, Director of the OIB, Pascal Smet made some absolutely outrageous remarks about the European civil service by stating that, as far as our staff was concerned, the fears expressed about security and criminality in the Northern district were inadmissible because “many people working in the European institutions take drugs” (sic!)… without forgetting to specify that “in Schuman, they also sell drugs. And probably not the same drugs as they sell there, but probably a bit whiter” (sic)
Following these intolerable insults, many of you have contacted us, requesting our intervention to ensure that the honourability and reputation of our staff are duly restored.
In keeping with our commitment to work in the greatest unity of action of the staff representation, we have coordinated our approaches with the other unions.
The publication of the Common Front’s note to Commissioner Hahn ( link ) was the catalyst for an avalanche of press reactions outraged by such statements by a representative of the Belgian State (see press review below).
R&D answers your questions
In this context, you have submitted additional questions to us and you will find our answers below.
1. Did Pascal Smet deny his statements and/or apologise ?
When contacted by Politico, Pascal Smet did not deny having made such absolutely intolerable remarks ( see Eurocrats are on drugs! Brussels city planning boss slams EU over reluctance to move offices – POLITICO)
In this respect, we are still waiting for his clear apology and not for a plethora of explanations, one less credible than the other, to the point of claiming that it was simply a “joke”… which obviously only he was laughing about …
In any case, the issue at stake is not only to obtain an apology from Pascal Smet, but also, and above all, to ensure that our institution defends the dignity, reputation and honourability of its staff by denouncing the unacceptable nature of these allegations.
2. How is it possible that the Director of the OIB having convened and chairing the meeting did not intervene directly to react to such insults by Pascal Smet asking him to withdraw immediately such outrageous remarks and to apologise to the staff on the spot?
This question has been put to us by colleagues and senior managers from all other institutions but unfortunately we are not in a position to answer this question.
Indeed, we are still waiting for a response from the Director of the OIB and are somewhat surprised, taking note of his intensive communication efforts, in the past, in other areas with a very assertive style.
We hence fail to understand how it was possible that the Director of the OIB chairing the meeting, carried on as if nothing had happened and without asking Pascal Smet to immediately withdraw such outrageous remarks and apologise on the spot.
3. Apart from the Common Front’s communication, what have you done to defend the reputation and good name of the staff in the institutions other than the Commission ?
R&D Federal has mobilised all its sections
R&D Federal, leading trade union in the European civil service, through its sections has already called on :
- · the Council (link),
- · the European Parliament (link),
- · the Committee of the Regions and the Economic and Social Committee (link)
to react to the insults suffered by all EU staff. Other institutions are following.
Thank you Mister President of the Council!
R&D would like to warmly thank the President of the Council Charles Michel for his immediate reaction!
Indeed, following the open letter that Renouveau & Démocratie ( link) had addressed to him, the President of the Council confirmed that “Smet’s remarks (…) are unacceptable” and “asked to respect all the men and women in service with the European Union and especially in this very difficult international period” ( link)
R&D associates itself with the sincere thanks of R&D Council to President Charles Michel for having taken a position immediately and for having defended the staff so clearly.
4. Apart from the request that Pascal Smet withdraw his insulting remarks and apologise to the staff, what other demands do you have?
Pascal Smet’s insults do not make us forget that our ABSOLUTE PRIORITY remains the defence of the well-being, health and safety of our colleagues in the Executive Agencies affected by this ill-considered and, in many respects, totally inexplicable move.
We reiterate the Common Front’s request to Commissioner Hahn to STOP the building procedure concerning this move and explore other solutions in less expensive and better located buildings!
5. What specific questions do you have about the building procedure for the relocation of the Executive Agencies to the Northern Quarter?
In this case too, staff representatives were confronted with the usual attitude of the OIB, which does not listen, ridicules the criticisms expressed, does not take the figures put forward seriously, imposes and forces its way through, claiming to have the backing of Commissioner Hahn in all circumstances.
DG HR being clearly unable to fulfil its governance role in the Offices.
Thus, faced with the impossibility of obtaining any credible response from the OIB, the Common Front addressed the following questions to Commissioner Hahn:
1. Concerning the procedure which led to the choice of the North Light
Has a property prospecting notice been published? In such a case, what was the outcome and what other options were discarded and why?
2. Concerning the referral of the “comité immobilier”
Was the matter referred to this committee? In such a case, what was its opinion?
3. Concerning the respect of the budgetary procedure provided for in the second paragraph of Article 266 of the Financial Regulation
Have the European Parliament and the Council been informed in advance before carrying out the market prospection for this building? In such a case, what were their answers?
4. Concerning the PRICES per m² of this building compared to those in the European district
While this move has always been justified by OIB for economic reasons, it would be unacceptable for this choice to have been made when the price per m² of the above-ground surface area for the North Light building, far from being much lower, would, on the contrary, be MUCH HIGHER than for other buildings in the European District, even those newly built such as “The One”.
In such a case, how can such a use of European taxpayers’ money be justified also before the budgetary authority?
Could we get a clear answer in this regard?
5. What about 2028 onwards, i.e. at the end of the current mandate of the Executive Agencies?”
6. Have you already received an answer from Commissioner Hahn?
Not yet. We respect Commissioner Hahn’s need to take the time to conduct all the necessary checks and require detailed information to all parts before taking the necessary steps to defend the honour, reputation and dignity of our staff, which have been called into question by Pascal Smet’s intolerable insults.
Without prejudice to the apologies that Pascal Smet will be obliged to make by the increasing pressure due the implausibility of the shifting explanations he is giving, we are also convinced that, taking into account the results of the verification of the file made by DG BUDG and the Legal Service, we will obtain answers to the legal, financial and procedural questions that staff and external observers are entitled to ask concerning the building procedure.
Who is in charge and responsible for what: let’s be very clear
Contrary to what Pascal Smet seems to believe and what the OIB has obviously not been able to make him understand, this is not a real estate and urban planning operation decided by the Belgian political authorities with the aim of upgrading a disadvantaged area, even at the cost of giving up for better conditions elsewhere.
On the contrary, this is a Commission building procedure and our institution must always remain the ONLY master of its choices.
Choices, which must not be influenced by the wishes of local political power and must always respect the principles and procedures laid down in our Financial Regulations, ensuring the proper management of European taxpayers’ money and the protection of the health, safety, and security of our staff.
EU Council criticise Brussels Minister for ‘unacceptable’ EU drug use comments – The Brussels Times
A lot of people working for EU institutions use drugs,’ says Brussels Minister Smet – The Brussels Times
EU staff ‘insulted’ by accusation of cocaine use – The Times
“I funzionari Ue si drogano”, polemica a Bruxelles – Europa.today.it