International Brusselers present their Manifesto for Brussels

International Brusselers present their Manifesto for Brussels

One in three Brusselers does not have the Belgian nationality and is therefore unable to vote in the Brussels regional elections. After an intensive participation project launched by State Secretary Pascal Smet, International Brusselers are presenting their proposals for a better Brussels. A Brussels that takes greater account of its international inhabitants and where life quality improves for all inhabitants. These proposals have been set out in a “Manifesto of the International Brusseler”. On 28 April, several international Brusselers will present these proposals to the Members of the Brussels Parliament and debate them with the Brussels members of parliament.

Between May and December 2021, thousands of International Brusselers made their voices heard through the innovative democratic participation project Live here. Speak, hear. The project was launched on the initiative of Pascal Smet, Brussels State Secretary for European and International Relations, and managed by 

“For the first time, we have actively listened to international Brusselers and interacted with them in an open and transparent way. This is a rapidly growing group of Brusselers who help shape our city every day. We simply cannot ignore them any longer. They made many proposals to provide solutions to issues that particularly affect non-Belgian Brusselers, but they also formulated strong ideas on themes that affect us all, such as public space, modern mobility and affordable housing. All Brussels policy makers should start working with this manifesto,” said Pascal Smet, Brussels State Secretary for European and International Relations.


All proposals formulated in the manifesto can be consulted on this website as of today:

This Manifesto of the International Brusseler has been clustered around six topics that are areas of concern for international Brusselers: the democratic representation of International Brusselers, accessible services for non-Belgians, modern mobility, inviting public spaces, affordable and quality housing and cleanliness. 

With their proposals, International Brusselers offer possible answers to six central questions:

  1. How can we ensure that International Brusselers have a meaningful say in regional politics?
  2. How can we make it easier for new arrivals and non-Belgians to interact with public authorities and administration?
  3. How do we make getting around Brussels greener, more efficient and more accessible?
  4. How can we make our streets, squares and parks a safe and enjoyable environment for everyone?
  5. How can we make Brussels, and especially the European Quarter, a liveable, affordable and family-friendly place to call home?
  6. How should we manage waste and keep Brussels clean?

The manifesto will be presented to Members of the Brussels Parliament on 28 April, the first Day of the International Brusseler.
Regardless of their nationality, Brusselers who would like to follow this debate live in Parliament can register at




The Manifesto of the International Brusseler is the final output of Live here. Speak, hear. This innovative democratic participation project offered International Brusselers an opportunity to have their say on the regional policies that affect their daily lives. The manifesto will be presented to the Members of the Brussels Parliament on 28 April 2022, the Day of the International Brusseler. That will mark the end of Live here. Speak, hear. but it’s the just the beginning for #BrusselsVoice!



International Brusselers make up a third of our Region’s population, and they are a vital part of our economy and cultural life. They build lives, careers and homes in Brussels, but they are currently unable to vote in regional elections to select the Parliament and Government of the Brussels-Capital Region.

This democratic deficit is unfair for International Brusselers who want to speak up and share their ideas. It also means that regional policy is made without considering the opinions and concerns of a huge segment of the population. Participation projects like this allow International Brusselers to raise their voice, say what matters to them and share their proposals for the Region.



This project was led by the International Brusselers who signed up on our digital platform and attended the policy development workshops. It was implemented by following an initiative by Pascal Smet, Brussels State Secretary for European and international relations.

Participation was open to all International Brusselers: residents of Brussels with non-Belgian citizenship. However, the Regional Government gives the Commissioner for Europe and International Organisations ( a particular mission to facilitate relationships between regional authorities and people who live in Brussels because they work in the international sector. Outreach and promotion therefore mainly targeted this group. Nevertheless, the data collected about participants show a real diversity in terms of gender, age, employment situation and nationality, with a balanced participation of EU and non-EU citizens.

The website and the full Manifesto of the International Brusseler offer a fascinating snapshot of this community’s relationship with the Region, as well as a set of concrete solutions to key policy challenges. It will be of interest to regional policy makers, International Brusselers who want to see how their community is expressing itself, and anyone interested in democratic participation or the future of Brussels.



With this project, a new democratic space has been created. The project partners take no position on the actual proposals in the manifesto, but we were proud to support International Brusselers in their development. We now pass them on to the regional Government and Parliament for consideration and debate.

Looking ahead, preparations are underway for the launch of a more long-term and stable framework for International Brusselers to participate in policymaking in the Brussels-Capital Region.


The policy proposals in the Manifesto of the International Brusseler did not appear out of nowhere. They were developed by International Brusselers themselves through the democratic participation project Live here. Speak, hear. Between May and December 2021, thousands of people got involved in this innovative process, which combined online and on-site activities.

Across four complementary phases, Live here. Speak, hear. went beyond a classic consultation and into the realm of democratic policy co-creation. The outputs of each phase became the inputs of the next, with democratic and participative approaches at every stage. This means that the final proposals drafted in small-group workshops are still representative of the hopes and concerns of those who raised their #BrusselsVoice online.



The manifesto will be launched and presented to the Brussels Parliament at the very first Day of the International Brusseler. That event will mark the end of the Live Here. Speak, hear. project, but it is only the beginning of an exciting new chapter for International Brusselers and their #BrusselsVoice! The next steps are in the hands of both regional authorities and International Brusselers themselves, but there are two main avenues for action.

  1. What to do with the proposals in this manifesto?
    Now that International Brusselers have spoken, it is important that the Regional Government and Brussels Parliament acknowledge and respond to their ideas. Which proposals can be implemented, and when? Which cannot be applied in their current form, but reveal hopes and concerns that the Region can act on? Over to you, policymakers!
  2. What is the future of democratic participation for International Brusselers?
    The response to Live here. Speak, hear. and the engagement of the participants have shown that the international community wants a meaningful voice in regional policy. What form will this process take in the future? That’s a topic for future negotiations between policymakers and International Brusselers. However, there are already some proposals and principles in this manifesto.



On 28 April International Brusselers will take the manifesto to the Brussels Parliament to present their proposals and ask that regional policymakers engage and respond. You can join us in person and online to witness this exciting moment and learn more about the future of Brussels Voice.

The exact programme is still being finalised, but International Brusselers will be at the heart of proceedings. For the Region speakers will include Brussels Commissioner Alain Hutchinson, State Secretary Pascal Smet, and President of the Brussels Parliament Rachid Madrane. You can already sign up for the event or register to get a reminder about the livestream.

Date: Thursday 28 April 2022
Time: 16:00 – 18:00 (followed by a reception for those attending in person)

Place: Parliament of the Brussels-Capital Region, Rue du Lombard 69, 1000 Bruxelles


Would you like a reaction from a representative of the international community? Feel free to contact Bryn Watkins on 0489 88 80 03.

Contact us
Damiaan De Jonge Woordvoerder, Kabinet Pascal Smet
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 and Urban Policy

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