- Daily & Weekly newsletters
- Buy & download The Bulletin
- Comment on our articles
French journalist causes stir with Brussels hatchet job
An opinion piece called ‘Bruxelles Pas Belle’ by Libération European affairs correspondent Jean Quatremer has caused a commotion among Brussels authorities and on social media. Using Baudelaire’s description of Brussels as a “joke capital”, long-term resident Quatremer criticises over two pages the “architectural monstrosities” and town planning aberrations that he feels blight the city. Brussels, he argues, has been a glorified building site since the 1950s, where cars reign supreme thanks to “urban motorways” leading into the centre, and which the regional authorities refuse to get rid of lest it drives away commuters from “wealthy Flanders”. Worst of all, Quatremer says, is the filthiness of the capital, with “smashed pavements” covered in litter throughout the city. “While Berlin has succeeded in becoming a modern capital, Brussels is stalling,” he concludes. Twitter and Facebook users were quick to enter the debate; while many were scathing of Quatremer’s hatchet job, others praised him for saying out loud what everyone in Brussels thinks. The new minister-president of the Brussels Region, Rudi Vervoort, has invited Quatremer to a debate on the subject.