Brussels Voice

PUBLISHED ON 17/05/2024

1 in 3 people living in Brussels is a citizen of another country, but International Brusselers can’t vote in regional elections. Brussels Voice gives you the chance to speak up on the regional policies that impact your daily life.

Brussels is a unique democratic melting pot. Home to the EU institutions and their staff, it is in fact a magnet for migrants from all around the world. The Brussels-Capital Region is also experimenting with new approaches to democracy: the regional Parliament runs world-first “Deliberative Committees” putting politicians and citizens around the same table to debate and draft recommendations. Nevertheless, non-Belgian residents still cannot vote in regional elections. This leaves one third of the population without a clear voice in the regional policies which manage everything from transport to housing, from employment to urban planning.

The Brussels-Capital Region committed itself to establishing a democratic participation platform to give a voice to Brussels residents with a non-Belgian citizenship. The CEIO therefore launched Brussels Voice in 2021 in order to address this democratic deficit and give International Brusselers the chance to speak up.

The first cycle - Live here. Speak, hear.

In the first cycle, some 1500 online and face-to-face participants created the Manifesto of the International Brusseler and its 22 proposals. In 2023, we collated and published detailed replies to that initial set of ideas from members of the regional government.

The second cycle - Brussels Voice 23

The success of the first cycle created the momentum for a second. For this new project, worked hand in hand with the Brussels Parliament. A recruitment campaign in summer 2023 gathered almost 600 applications, from which 45 non-Belgians were randomly selected to create a new panel of International Brusselers. When asked which policy area they most wanted to work on, the applicants selected mobility. During three multilingual workshops, the panel then shared their frustrations, interviewed experts, and imagined the future of mobility and transport in Brussels.

The panel developed strategic priorities, which were the starting point for a day of deliberative sessions at the Brussels Parliament on Saturday 14 October. At Parliament, citizens worked with members of parliament and representatives of the political groups to develop 15 recommendations.

The CEOI developed and implemented the bespoke methodology of Brussels Voice 23 alongside the Brussels Parliament and professional facilitators. The process puts us on the map as an innovative actor in the vibrant democratic participation scene of Europe’s hyperdiverse capital.

The Brussels Voice website tells the story of the project and shares the outputs of the first two cycles.

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