Brussels’ drug policy is incoherent and insufficiently coordinated

24 January 2024
Mathias Vanden Borre

“We cannot say with reasonable certainty that Brussels’ drug policy is efficient and effective.” The Court of Audit stated this today after a university study already came to the same conclusion last year. “Meanwhile, Brussels is groaning under an unprecedented crack epidemic and street violence between urban gangs,” says Brussels MP Mathias Vanden Borre.

The Court of Audit’s verdict does not look good: “An evaluation of the policy is not possible. No reports are drawn up, there is no general inventory of the measures taken and there is no institutionalised formal coordination between the three players Safe Brussels, non-profit organisation Transit and the Common Community Commission.”

Chaos and lawlessness

A large-scale study on Belgian drug policy – carried out by Ghent University, the Université Catholique de Louvain and KU Leuven last year – previously reached a similar conclusion: the drug policy is too fragmented and often lacks a clear vision. “By setting up drug consumption rooms, the majority is sending the signal that drugs are OK and that we are in fact taking half a step towards legalisation in Brussels. Whereas the federal government primarily wants to fine drug possession. It is impossible to reconcile the federal and regional plans. That will lead to chaos and lawlessness on the ground,” Vanden Borre notes.

No more time

According to Vervoort, the lack of coordination and follow-up is due to the fact that they are only as far as the second edition of the regional safety plan. Among other things, the new 2025-2029 plan will have to ensure smoother coordination between the various players. But according to Vanden Borre, there is no more time: “Action must and can be taken now. For example, the non-profit organisation Transit must be integrated into In addition, the regional safety plan must replace the zoning safety plans. Because the first regional safety plan identified the fight against drugs and addiction as one of the priorities. But not all the police districts adopted this priority in their zoning safety plan, which is nevertheless the intention. Finally, more effort must also be put into repression and administrative enforcement. Brussels is lagging far behind Flemish and European cities in this respect,” Vanden Borre concludes.

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