Urban development and the European Quarter

Urban planning and development is therefore a key issue in the host region policy, and a priority for the Institutional Liaison Unit of commissioner.brussels. Indeed, we are the central contact point for all urban development projects involving or having an impact on European and international organisations.

We aim to support the development of international organisations in Brussels while ensuring their harmonious integration into the urban fabric of the Region. This means that the needs of these institutions are taken into account in urban development and mobility projects. However, it is also vital that the priorities of the Brussels-Capital Region and its residents are respected in the development and real estate projects of international organisations.

Our mission and services in urban planning

We offer European and international organisations guidance on all aspects of urban planning, including assistance with procedures. We provide support to help you find the right administrative contacts, follow-up on planning permits and make requests or complaints to the relevant administrations. Make sure to contact us well in advance of any projects, so we can help you through the process.

For the Brussels authorities, we offer multilingual liaison with organisations who want to propose projects and apply for permits. We can smooth the process by ensuring that the applicants understand the rules and procedures in place, adhere to general urban planning principles, and submit correct requests. Alert us as soon as a European institution or international organisation contacts you.

The European Quarter

The beating heart of the Brussels international sector is undeniably the European Quarter – the area of town around the key EU institutions. The district houses embassies, diplomatic missions, regional representations and intergovernmental organisations. Around these public authorities orbit corporate offices, trade associations, NGOs and advocacy groups, research centres, media organisations and lobbying consultancies. Tens of thousands of commuters and other visitors enter the area every day for work and meetings, making the European Quarter both the nexus of EU governance and one of the main employment hubs of the Brussels-Capital Region.

This emblematic district, where our own offices are located, is unsurprisingly the focus of our work on urban development and planning. The European Quarter and its special mix of users require tailored approaches on issues such as buildings management, public space, mobility, security and promotion. We act as a go-between linking the regional and municipal authorities with the EU and international organisations.

In recent years, our work on the European Quarter has taken a new direction as all stakeholders in the neighbourhood develop ambitious plans for the future. The area was long considered a monofunctional zone dominated by offices, divorced from its urban context and largely lifeless in the evenings and weekends. This was a slightly unfair stereotype, but a new dynamic was clearly needed. The Brussels-Capital Region has developed an ambitious urban vision for the district, spearheaded by perspective.brussels, which aims to bring more housing and cultural life into the neighbourhood. At the same time, the EU institutions have been making big decisions about their office space in the area. The Brussels Commissioner for Europe and International Organisations has made sure that all actors are in close contact, so that the EU institutions participate in the broader plans and act as true citizens of the European Quarter.

The redevelopment of the roundabout at Place Schuman as an urban square and meeting point is the most visible expression of the new vision already underway. We have organised meetings and information sessions for the EU institutions and other organisations based around the sites of the works. We have also ensured that the questions and concerns of these organisations are properly relayed to the authorities implementing the works.

Finally, we are involved in strategies which promote the European Quarter as a lifestyle and tourism hub. Indeed, the development of cultural and tourist institutions with an international influence is bearing fruit: the European Quarter is already one of the most important tourist destinations in the Brussels-Capital Region. For example, we are a key partner in the visit.brussels project to create a new brand for the neighbourhood. European Quarter Brussels (EUQB) aims to support the transformation in the image of the area with vibrant colours, an eye-catching logo and a more positive story. We were part of the core working group which developed the brand, but we are also supporting the rollout as a relay with other actors. For example, we gather the EU institutions to get their feedback and encourage them to engage with the brand. We also host sessions with the municipalities on whose territory the European Quarter sits.