European Union bosses have unveiled plans to make smoking cannabis compulsory in designated Brussels bars and cafes in a bid to attract tourists from Amsterdam.
The move comes after the Dutch city’s mayor Femke Halsema called for foreign visitors to be banned from its coffee shops in a bid to reduce the demand for cannabis and bring the city’s soft drug trade under control.
Although described by Lonely Planet as “historic yet hip, bureaucratic yet bizarre, self-confident yet unshowy”, Brussels has long been thought of as a tourism wasteland compared to trendier and more historic Belgium neighbour Bruges.
But that looks set to change after bureaucrats spotted an opportunity to capitalise on Amsterdam’s move towards respectability.
European Commission tourism tsar Olaf Proli said there was huge potential to attract foreign tourists put off by Amsterdam’s conservative views on weed, but also to cater to EU workers – bureaucrats keen to relax with a spliff after a day spent inspecting the quality and shape of imported bananas.
He said making weed compulsory was the only way, as voluntary consumption wouldn’t work.
“If you give people a choice, they could go into a cannabis bar and just inhale. That’s not fair on paying guests and it’s not going to help our tourism industry. The EU believes in democracy, but only up to a point.”
Meanwhile, Brexit campaigners in the UK have slammed the move.
Conservative MP Polly Fordasia said: “This is classic Brussels. The minute we get out of the EU, they make it really attractive to get back in. I trust they will ensure frictionless travel for UK passport holders keen to get away from Britain and forget their troubles.”
- UPDATE: Did you spot our April Fool’s joke? The clues were in the names – Olaf Proli is an anagram of April Fool, while Polly Fordasia rearranges to April Fool’s Day.