Brussels does everything it can to strengthen its position as European capital

Brussels does everything it can to strengthen its position as European capital

The Brussels government approved the strategic approach of Rudi Vervoort and Pascal Smet to improve Brussels' attractiveness as an international host city.

This approach by Minister-President Rudi Vervoort and Brussels State Secretary for European and

​International Relations and for Urbanism Pascal Smet is the outcome of constructive consultations between the Brussels Region, the European institutions and the federal level.

The vision aims to accelerate and strategically implement the strategy to transform the European Quarter and to strengthen public services for international Brusselers.

Brussels is Europe and Europe is Brussels. We will spare no efforts to strengthen our position as European capital. Brussels will welcome and guide its international residents even better and we will accelerate the transformation of the European Quarter into a vibrant urban district,” said Brussels State Secretary for European and International Relations and Urbanism Pascal Smet.
“The Brussels government is very well aware that the presence of the European and international institutions is very important for Brussels and that it also includes certain challenges. Therefore, it has been conducting a structured, frequent dialogue with the European institutions since 2015. The Commissioner for Europe and International Organisations plays a central role in this dynamic, which is paying off. The host region policy interacts with very different areas of competence (such as welcoming workers, European Quarter development, mobility, education, tourism, and so on) and thus requires close cooperation between all Belgian authorities. I therefore warmly welcome this joint initiative with the Prime Minister, which means the federal government is committed to follow up all files of common interest related to our international status, in coordination with the Region,” said Minister-President Rudi Vervoort.

Brussels hosts many European and international institutions, together providing 120,000 jobs. This presence has an economic value of 5 billion euros a year. That is shown by a study by, which acts as link between the European and international institutions and the Brussels Region.

The latter has already taken several initiatives in recent years to strengthen its position as European capital.

For example, the Schuman square, currently an ordinary roundabout, will become an iconic urban square, at the initiative of Pascal Smet. Preparatory works on the square, carried out by Beliris, will start in spring 2023. In May this year, Rudi Vervoort, Pascal Smet and Ans Persoons, alderwoman of the city of Brussels, also presented the urban development principles for the future of the European Quarter.

The strategic approach adopted by the Brussels government today is the outcome of a constructive dialogue with the European institutions. For its concrete implementation, the Brussels and federal authorities are joining forces.

The groundwork for this active cooperation was carried out in September 2022, during a consultation with the entire Bureau of the European Parliament, Prime Minister De Croo, Federal State Secretary Dermine, Brussels Minister-President Rudi Vervoort and Brussels State Secretary for Urbanism and European and International Relations Pascal Smet.

At the level of the Brussels Region, Minister-President Vervoort and State Secretary Smet have regular consultations with the European institutions. During these future consultations, the ambitions of the strategic approach will be monitored and evaluated continuously. The Brussels Commissioner for Europe and International Organisations will also play a very active role in this process.

The strategy includes many concrete projects that will, on the one hand, improve services for and welcome international Brusselers and, on the other hand, increase the attractiveness of the European Quarter through interventions in public spaces and a coherent vision for future (re)developments.

A vibrant European Quarter

In recent years, the metamorphosis of the European Quarter has begun. The Schuman square will no longer be an ordinary roundabout, but a beautiful urban square where people can engage with each other.
​Today, the European Quarter is still a rather monofunctional (office) district with too few quality public spaces. This will change drastically.

Vervoort and Smet's strategic approach will streamline and coordinate all private and public urban development initiatives.

In addition to the new Schuman square, Place du Luxembourg, “Place Lux” for many international Brusselers, will become the neighbourhood’s beating heart. The square will undergo a complete metamorphosis.
​Vervoort and Smet were given the go today for their proposal to temporarily redevelop the square as early as 2023 and to subsequently start the process for a definitive redevelopment.

In addition, the approved strategic approach also creates a link with the Cinquantenaire Park renewal. The federal authorities aim to renew this monumental park by Belgium’s bicentenary in 2030.

A design study for a pedestrian and cyclist bridge over the railway line between the European Parliament and the Schuman square will also be carried out.

Applying an active urban development policy, the Brussels Region will be the driving force in transforming the European Quarter into a lively multifunctional district.

The Brussels Region is already implementing this strategy in other urban districts, such as the Northern Quarter, where both public space and several buildings will be completely transformed in the coming years. Brussels Minister-President Vervoort and State Secretary for Urbanism Smet designed a vision for the Northern Quarter and are coordinating all private and public projects in this area.

Examples are a new tram line, the Senne river reopening and the transformation of monofunctional office buildings, such as the Proximus Tower and the WTC I & II building, into vibrant metropolitan hubs with housing, bars and restaurants, roof terraces and other urban functions in addition to offices. Cherry on the cake in the Northern Quarter will be KANAL - Centre Pompidou, a contemporary art museum in the former Citroën building that will open its doors in 2024. Vervoort and Smet will coordinate all urban developments in the European Quarter in a similar way.

A welcoming Brussels

Belgium and Brussels will be more active in welcoming and accompanying international Brusselers. European institutions in Brussels will have a more visible role.
​Specifically, international Brusselers will have easier access to all public services via an electronic identity card. There will be a new European School in Neder-Over-Heembeek and a “hybrid” school, bringing together European and Belgian pupils. In addition, some existing European schools will be renovated.
​The Solvay library, in Leopold Park, will soon house the library for European law.
​The European Quarter itself will have its own visual identity, while a communication strategy will address its grey image.
​There will be a neutral zone in front of the European Parliament, following the example of the federal parliament.




Damiaan De Jonge Woordvoerder, Kabinet Pascal Smet



About Pascal Smet

Brussels Government, Secretary of State for Urbanism and Heritage - European and International Relations - Foreign Trade - Fire fighting and Emmergency medical Assistance

Member of the Board of the Flemish Community Commission (VGC), responsible for Culture,Youth, Sport, Community Centres, Living Together and Diversity

Pascal Smet
Koning Albert II laan 37 - 12de
1030 Brussel