Brussels PM Rudi Vervoort says that drug issues should be looked at from a public health perspective. After a trip to see the situation in Lisbon at first hand he points to the situation in Portugal where drug use is no longer part of criminal law: "To the surprise of many the number of drug addicts fell significantly and criminal gangs have less power."
Five million euros have been earmarked for the new centre. It will include a room where drug addicts can do drugs and count on the support of a broad team of health care workers. Addicts will be able to wash themselves and their clothes, get a hot meal and consult a doctor. Emergency accommodation will be provided for up to 12 days to stabilise drug use and refer addicts to hospital. Social workers will help users to get their necessary paperwork in order to qualify for social security.
The project will also offer accommodation for up to 6 months. Addicts will be able to exchange needles and other equipment free of charge to prevent the spread of hepatitis C and HIV.