European Parliament building Credit: visit.brussels / Sophie Voituron
Brussels Regional Government has launched an initiative to give its international residents a say in the politics, future and development of the region.
Although international residents, equating to one in three of Brussels’ inhabitants, can vote in municipal and European elections, they are not able to vote in regional elections. Changing this would require a change in the Belgian Constitution, so instead, the government launched this initiative, allowing them to have their say.
“Regional policies really affect our daily lives, impacting on vital areas like public transport, employment, and security. International residents of Brussels do not just live and work here, this is their home, and they should have the right to speak up on issues like these,” Alain Hutchinson, Brussels Commissioner for Europe and International Organisations, said in a press release.
The platform, ‘Live here. Speak, hear’, was launched by Commissioner.brussels and the Government of the Brussels-Capital Region, will be combined with interactive debates, which will be organised in person after the summer, to find out what the priorities of international residents are.
The online idea board, which is already live, is divided into four main themes, and all ideas presented under these categories will form the basis of the Manifesto of the International Brusseler, a set of policy recommendations that will be presented to the Brussels Parliament in November this year.
The four topics are:
How new international arrivals should be welcomed;
How these residents can be given a meaningful political representation in the Region;
How to improve the European Quarter as a space for working and living;
Finally, the international residents themselves are asked to suggest an additional theme based on what they feel is the most urgent issue
“Brussels is one of the most cosmopolitan cities of the world, with more than 180 nationalities. For the future of Brussels, it’s very important to know what all these people think and make it possible for them to shape our city with us,” Pascal Smet, State Secretary for European and International Relations of the Brussels Capital Region, said.
International residents will have up to three months to voice their suggestions, concerns and ideas, which can be submitted here.