President of the United States Joe Biden will be landing in Belgium on Sunday evening and will stay in Brussels from 13 to 15 June, which will result in the closing off of several districts in the region and the disruption of traffic.
The president will be in the capital alongside dozens of heads of state for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) summit, which will take place on Monday 14 June, at the NATO Headquarters in Evere, and during which the NATO 2030 future plan is expected to be approved.
In recognition of the summit, Brussels will be coloured NATO blue for the next few days, including the city hall and the fountain at Montgomery’s roundabout, whilst Manneken Pis will be dressed in a NATO-themed costume.
An estimated 2,000 police officers, some in uniform, and others who will be in plainclothes, 300 motorcyclists, and members of State Security and military intelligence are being called in to give every delegation an appropriate escort and security.
The city will also be surveyed by helicopters, dog brigades and special units of the Federal Police, which, among other things, will provide snipers who will be deployed in and around all sensitive locations.
For the president specifically, wherever he and “his bubble” pass or are located, everything will be shut off, going as far as manholes in the specific area being sealed off, and all the newly re-opened cafes closing their doors.
Meanwhile, anyone who lives or works within the security perimeter around the president must apply for a pass at least 72 hours in advance to enter the perimeter.
Preparations have been ongoing for a long time, and as Biden will be travelling in a procession of some 15 black limousines containing his presidential staff and communications team, it is sure to cause a certain amount of disruption to the everyday way of life in certain parts of Brussels.
Public transport operator STIB has already advised all its users to avoid travel by bus and to instead use the underground transport network, but it warned that, throughout the visit, access to different metro stations (Trône, Arts-Loi, Porte de Namur, Louise) will certainly be closed, some in real-time.
So, when will the disruption begin, and where will it affect Brussels most?
Sunday 13 June
Biden will land at Melsbroek in the afternoon, where he will be met by Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, after which he will be driven to the American embassy next to the Royal Park in Brussels, where he will be staying until Tuesday 15 June.
During his entire stay, both Rue Ducale and the side road, Boulevard du Régent, will be closed between the intersections with Rue de la Loi on one side and Rue Lambermont on the other, and part of the city’s park will be closed off with barriers.
In addition, traffic in the vicinity of Place Jourdan will also be disrupted, which will result in bus lines 59, 60, and 80 being diverted via Chaussée d’Etterbeek between noon and 10:30 PM.
Traffic in the Schuman neighbourhood is also expected to be affected, whilst bus lines 12, 21, 36, 56, 60, and 79 will be diverted via Maelbeek between 8:00 PM and 10:00 PM.
Monday 14 June
As the NATO summit will be taking place on this day, additional disruption is expected. A large area around the NATO HQ in Evere will be closed off until the last person has left, which is expected to be around 5:00 PM.
This includes Avenue A201/Leopold III which passes in front of the NATO site, which will be closed off all day in both directions between the Brussels Ring road and the intersection with Avenue Jules Bordet.
Bus line 12 will be diverted via the Chaussée de Haecht and line 62 will be restricted to Da Vinci. Line 55 will continue to run until the Da Vinci terminus from 8:00 AM until 8:00 PM.
The end of the E19 (Machelen exit), the Brussels Ring, the E40 between the Ring and Boulevard Reyers, Rue de la Loi, Rue Belliard, Boulevard de Waterloo, Boulevard du Toison d’Or, and the Brussels inner ring road will also be temporarily closed throughout the day, as will several tunnels in the capital.
Obstruction is expected for bus lines 12, 21, 27, and 64, whilst lines 12, 21, and 27 will be limited to Maelbeek, line 64 will be limited to Ambiorix, between 11:00 AM and 12:30 PM.
The same disruptions are expected in the Schuman area as on 13 June, between 3:00 PM and 8:00 PM.
Tuesday 15 June
The president will be visiting the Royal Palace, to the left side of the Royal Park from the American Embassy, to meet King Philippe and De Croo. Traffic congestion is expected in the vicinity of the Royal Palace on the same day.
Public transport lines 12, 27, 38, 54, 71, 95, 92, and 93 will be affected, and in the area around Trône/Porte de Namur, the bus lines will be diverted or limited between 9:30 AM and 12:30 PM.
STIB has said tramlines will not be restricted but will have to remain in place for a few minutes. Disruptions are expected from 9:30 AM to just past noon.
Traffic congestion is expected in and around the European Quarter as Biden will be meeting with the heads of all the European Institutions for lunch.
Bus lines will be restricted in the area around Maelbeek/Schuman/Marnix/Place Luxembourg from 10:30 AM until 1:30 PM.
Around 14:30 PM, Biden will travel back to Melsbroek, from where his Air Force One will fly to Geneva where he will be meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin.