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Brussels’ international community invited to raise its voice at regional parliament

Brussels Voice call to expats to get involved in regional politics
15:00 15/06/2023

Democracy platform Brussels Voice is recruiting 45 international Brusselers to join political discussions on how the region is run

Registrations are now open to non-Belgians to share their opinions on how to improve life in the capital. They will be invited to attend three workshops at before spending a day at Brussels Parliament working alongside MPs in a deliberative committee.

The deadline for applications is 16 July. Participants will be randomly selected to join the workshops and parliamentary panel to be held in September and October.

Brussels Voice hopes that a diverse cross-section of Brussels’ international communities will respond to the latest call.

The platform, launched in 2021, is part of an initiative of the Brussels Commission for Europe and International Organisations, which also runs the Welcome Desk for newly-arrived EU workers

It aims to address the democratic deficit that arises from the fact that one-third of Brussels’ population cannot vote in regional elections because they do not have Belgian nationality.

Says Brussels Voice: “The goal is already clear: define the specific challenges affecting non-Belgians in Brussels, and explore how the region can help.”

Manifesto for 'better Brussels' published in 2022

In 2022, the association published the Manifesto of the International Brusseler with 22 proposals for “a better Brussels” developed by some 1,500 participants.

Marie Raverdeau, who works for an international NGO in Brussels, attended one of the policy drafting workshops. “It was really inspiring to be in a room with other non-Belgians who were full of positive ideas for Brussels. This can be a frustrating place to live, but it’s also a wonderful city and it’s our home.”

Although non-Belgians will not be able to vote in the regional elections on 9 June 2024, she hoped the Brussels Voice action would lead to some real improvements in everyday life, and pave the way to more opportunities for meaningful participation.

Brussels one of most cosmpolitan cities in world

Brussels’ secretary of state Pascal Smet, who is also behind the initiative, says the city “simply cannot ignore” the one in three inhabitants unable to vote in regional elections. “They are such an important part of this city and they help shape our city every day.”

Pointing out that Brussels was one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world with more than 180 nationalities, Smet says he is proud that the Brussels Parliament is “now literally opening its doors for them” .

Activities linked to the presence of international organisations account for more than 20% of economic output and employment in the region, says Brussels commissioner for Europe and International Organisations Alain Hutchinson.

“But International Brusselers are not just Europeans working in the EU institutions or other international organisations. They come from all over the world and contribute to all aspects of the economic, social and cultural life of our region,” he adds.


Written by The Bulletin