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US embassy’s illegal occupation of public space in Brussels sparks protest by local politicians
It’s been a few years now since the American embassy privatised a small street and part of the pavement bordering its Brussels city-centre site. But according to the council of state, this is an illegal act, reports RTBF.
Located between Boulevard de Régent and Rue Ducale, Rue Zinner is closed to the public, along with part of the boulevard pavement. The obstructions located at both entrances that block access to visitors are intended to increase the security of the area, but aren’t strictly legal.
Brussels’ urbanism alderman Geoffroy Coomans (MR) protested: “Local residents have made appeals and have won on paper, but despite a court decision, nothing has changed.”
Green party member Isabelle Pauthier was in agreement. She said the situation caused a great deal of trouble for pedestrians, cyclists and public access in general.
Despite not contesting the illegality, Brussels’ urbanism and heritage minister Pascal Smet said he wasn’t in a rush to take action against the embassy due to its intention to relocate, “which will de facto resolve the situation".
According to recent statements, the embassy plans to take over ING Belgium’s offices in Cours Saint-Michel, Etterbeek. Coomans, however, pointed out that the move probably wouldn’t happen until around 2027 and 2028.
Photo: Rue Ducale when the road was closed after a suspicious vehicle was found near the US embassy in Brussels, March 2020 © Belga/Bert Van den Broucke