Pascal Smet, State Secretary for European and International Relations of the Brussels Capital Region, commented: “International Brusselers are a vital part of our community, and they deserve a voice in the policies that affect them. Since they cannot vote, I am determined to experiment with innovative democratic models that let International Brusselers express their vision for the Region. I’m delighted to see the ideas of Internatiol Brusselers that would be good for all of us: more qualitative public spacec, improved safety, diversified mobility options and a more divers EU quarter.”
Alain Hutchinson, Brussels Commissioner for Europe and International Organisations, said: “New research commissioned by my organisation has quantified just how important the international sector and its workers are for the Region. Around a quarter of our economic turnover depends on the sector, but newcomers face a range of additional challenges when building their homes and careers in Brussels. Ideas related to multilingual services and simpler administration show how small changes could make it much easier to settle in and integrate. I thank the participants for their contributions, and hope we’ll hear from many more International Brussels in the voting and workshop phases!”
#BrusselsVoice: The key ideas so far…
To support the arrival and integration of International Brusselers:
• Simplify the "welcoming process" of Brussels, currently organised across different institutions, in a way that makes it better centered on the needs of newcomers.
• Gather a group of Brussels ambassadors who would welcome newcomers with basic information on the region and invitations to social activities.
• Give the right to vote to international residents staying in the country for a long time period (e.g. over 5 years).
To improve the European Quarter:
• Provide space for nice cafés, affordable shops, sport facilities and places celebrating cultures in order to make the Quarter more attractive for families(also at weekends).
• Transform the Quarter into a green area by planting more trees.
• Redesign the bike lane system to reduce the number of cars in circulation and ensure the safety of cyclists (e.g. build a bike bridge crossing the Rue Belliard).
• Set up a social media channel where residents could share their issues/suggestions for improvements directly with public authorities.
The biggest issues facing International Brusselers:
• Their access to essential (public) services in a language that they master (e.g., English).
• Rents that are increasingly expensive for quality housing.
• Traffic jams and pollution within the city.
• Their difficulty understanding the complex structure of Belgian authorities.
The digital platform moved from collecting ideas into a voting phase. International Brusselers can select the ideas that they want to see put into action, and the most popular ideas will make it through to a series of workshops. Participants will turn them into real policy proposals, which will be presented to the Brussels Parliament for debate and follow-up.
The participation campaign "Live here. Speak, hear." started at the beginning of the summer with a first ideas collection phase where international Brusselers were invited to share, on an online platform, their suggestions for improvement on different topics within the scope of regional policy. Since the launch of this platform in June 2021, International Brusselers have joined the community, added their ideas and reacted to those of others. These proposals cover everything from transport to safety, including suggestions to improve the way we support the integration of newcomers, as well as bold plans to make the European Quarter more attractive and liveable.
Now this public consultation takes a new turn: International Brusselers can vote for the ideas on the platform which they wish to support. The suggestions which gather a large number of votes will move to the next phase. To vote, the procedure is fast and straightforward: participants simply have to register on the platform (brusselsvoice.commissioner.brussels) and select their favourite suggestions.
After the voting phase, a series of interactive workshops will be organised based on the ideas that gathered the most votes. At these events, which will take place in November and December, International Brusselers will be invited to draft their own Manifesto summarising their policy proposals. This Manifesto will then be presented to the Brussels Parliament. More details on the programme and registration to these workshops will soon be made available. Visit and sign up to the platform (brusselsvoice.commissioner.brussels) to remain informed.
The organisation which maintains and develops direct relations between the Government of the Brussels Capital-Region and the Region’s numerous international institutions. It also offers personalised support to residents through the Expat Welcome Desk.