One in three people living in Brussels is a citizen of another country, but non-Belgians cannot vote in regional elections.For the International Brusselers who build their lives here, this is an unfair democratic deficit. For the Brussels-Capital Region, it’s a missed opportunity.
Brussels Voice is a new democratic space for an ever more diverse Brussels. Last year, we developed the Manifesto of the International Brusseler and its 22 proposals, co-created by some 1500 online and face-to-face participants. Today we are launching recruitment for a second adventure, rooted in Brussels’ innovations in deliberative democracy. The Brussels Parliament and its Members will open their doors to a panel of international Brussels residents in October.
Marie Raverdeau works for an international NGO in Brussels. She attended one of the policy co-drafting workshops last year. “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.So I’m really happy to hear that the Region is asking us to speak up again, even though we won’t be able to vote in next year’s regional elections. I hope Brussels Voice will lead to some real improvements in everyday life, and pave the way to more opportunities for meaningful participation.”
A NEW APPROACH
In 2023, Brussels Voice is working hand in hand with the Brussels Parliament. We are recruiting a panel of International Brusselers who will work on one or two ideas before attending a deliberative session with regional MPs. The topics will be chosen from the proposals in the Manifesto of the International Brusseler, but the goal is already clear: define the specific challenges affecting non-Belgians in Brussels, and explore how the Region can help. Sitting alongside Members of Parliament, our participants will debate new recommendations and solutions. This is an opportunity to express your ideas at the heart of regional policy… and it promises to be a unique experience!
Like many innovative democracy projects, we are choosing participants by lot. Those wishing to take part can register online, then 45 international Brussels residents will be selected at random to join the panel and take part in all the sessions.
You can register on this website until Sunday 16 July 2023. MORE INFO.
A COLOURFUL MIX OF BRUSSELS RESIDENTS
Other innovations for 2023: broader promotion of the call, more inclusive and multilingual facilitation at the workshops, and diversity criteria in the selection of participants. We are ambitious about mobilising a broad cross-section of International Brusselers, so everyone should feel welcome to take part in the panel!
Alain Hutchinson is the Brussels Commissioner for Europe and International Organisations. As the head of commissioner.brussels, he knows that “the international community is of paramount importance to Brussels, the capital of Europe. Activities linked to the presence of international organisations in our Region already account for more than 20% of economic output and employment in Brussels, 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. I am therefore delighted to invite them all to seize the opportunity to make their views heard on the political issues that affect their daily lives!”
UNDER CONSTRUCTION: A NEW DEMOCRATIC SPACE
This deliberative adventure is the next step in a journey that began in 2021. The regional association commissioner.brussels invited international Brussels residents to have their say via a digital portal and a series of interactive workshops. In all, some 1,500 participants took part. The result is the Manifesto of the International Brusseler and its 22 proposals, published in 2022.