Manifesto for Brussels: International community 'cannot be ignored'

Manifesto for Brussels: International community 'cannot be ignored'
Parc de Cinquentenaire in the European Quarter. Credit: Ugo Realfonzo/The Brussels Times

Thousands of Brussels' international residents have helped create a "Manifesto for Brussels", including proposals on how the regional government can assist and improve their lives, which will be presented in the Brussels-Region Parliament later this month.

Although international residents (who make up one-third of Brussels inhabitants) can vote in municipal and European elections, they are not able to vote in regional elections. Instead, the government launched a participation project last year, giving them a chance to have their say. The results and proposals of this have now been published.

“For the first time, we have actively listened to international 'Brusselers' and interacted with them openly and transparently. This is a rapidly growing group of people who help shape our city every day. We simply cannot ignore them any longer," State Secretary Pascal Smet, who launched the project, stated.

As part of the manifesto, international residents made proposals to provide solutions to issues that particularly affect non-Belgians. They also came up with ideas on how to approach issues that affect all residents, from public space to modern mobility and affordable housing.

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The proposals will be presented in the Brussels Parliament on 28 April — the first "Day of the International Brusseler". They include measures to ensure that Brussels takes greater account of its international inhabitants and to improve the quality of life for all its inhabitants.

A better city for all

Between May and December 2021, thousands of international residents took part in the democratic participation project "Live here. Speak, hear." This allowed non-Belgians to list their concerns and issues, as well as ideas and proposals for how their lives could be improved.

The final Manifesto focuses on six topics: the democratic representation of "International Brusselers", accessible services for non-Belgians, modern mobility, inviting public spaces, affordable and quality housing and cleanliness.

"All Brussels policymakers should start working with this manifesto,” said Smet.

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