Brussels Voice ’22

Day of the international Brusseler

What future does the international community of Brussels imagine for our region? What do elected politicians think of their proposals? And how can we ensure that International Brusselers have a real voice in regional politics?

These were the big questions at Brussels Voice ’22, the first ever Day of the International Brusseler. The event took place at the Brussels Parliament on 28 April, gathering international residents, policymakers and regional MPs representing most political groups.

Brussels Voice ’22 marked the formal handover of the Manifesto of the International Brusseler to the Brussels Parliament and Government. The event was a lively success, with International Brusselers passionately defending not just their proposals but their very right to have a say in the policies of their home region. Around 40 International Brusselers were in the hemicycle to witness the event in person and many more were watching online. 12 Members of Parliament also attended. They acknowledged and welcomed the manifesto, underlining that International Brusselers share the concerns of their Belgian neighbours. There was also broad support for both continuing to engage with the community and seeking ways to give them the right to vote in regional elections. Closing the discussions, Pascal Smet, Brussels State Secretary for European and International Relations, announced that a new consultative body for International Brusselers will be created within commissioner.brussels. From now on the process will exist under the name Brussels Voice.

Alain Hutchinson, Brussels Commissioner for Europe and International Organisations, celebrated the success of the project and the event. “I was pleased that commissioner.brussels could take the lead in this bold experiment in participative democracy. International Brusselers are a vital part of our economic and social life, and they have developed some fascinating proposals which offer a snapshot of their worries and hopes. Today’s event was also a big step. Never before has the regional parliament welcomed non-Belgians and new arrivals in this way. The discussions showed that International Brusselers really care about their home and that they have a lot to offer when we give them a chance to speak up.”

Pascal Smet, Brussels State Secretary for European and International Relations, looked to the future. “International Brusselers matter. Giving them a voice is a first step in valuing this important part of the population that is too often ignored in Brussels. It was important to present and discuss the demands of the Manifesto in parliament. In front of elected politicians, because fighting against this democratic aberration is essential for me. It is up to us, as policy makers, to implement their recommendations. Only then we will be able to achieve our ambition to become an international city worthy of the name. We will therefore continue the consultations and make them permanent. One man, one vote. That is our goal.”

Ilaria Maselli, an International Brusseler of Italian origin who spoke at Brussels Voice ’22, insisted that her community has a place in regional politics. “Ilaria Maselli, an International Brusseler of Italian origin who spoke at Brussels Voice ’22, insisted that her community has a place in regional politics. “My Belgian husband sometimes says I am more a Brusseler than he is, so I was really proud to present my community’s ideas to the Parliament today. But this shouldn’t just be one-time event. We want our voice to be heard in the democratic process. We live here, we belong here, and this is our home too. We deserve a real voice on the regional policies which we help to finance.

SPEAKERS AT BRUSSELS VOICE ‘22

  • Rachid Madrane, President of the Brussels Parliament
  • Pascal Smet, Brussels State Secretary for European and International Relations
  • Alain Hutchinson, Brussels Commissioner for Europe and International Organisations
  • Members of the Brussels Parliament
  • Ilaria Maselli & Bryn Watkins, International Brusselers

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