The City of Brussels: A Diverse and Vibrant Cultural Melting Pot


Robert Eduard Antal » Urban Innovation » Sustainability and Green Tech Drive Brussels Forward

Contributions and Roles of Member Cities in the Eurocities Network: Brussels, Belgium

Innovation and Sustainability

Brussels, as a member of the Eurocities network, is at the forefront of sustainability and innovation. The city has committed to ambitious goals aimed at reducing CO2 emissions and promoting green technology. With an integrated approach, Brussels focuses on creating a sustainable urban environment where economic growth is harmonized with environmental stewardship. Initiatives include upgrading public transportation, enhancing energy efficiency, and fostering community-based renewable energy projects.

Smart City Initiatives

Brussels leverages cutting-edge technology to enhance urban living and improve city management. By integrating smart city principles, Brussels addresses key urban challenges, including environmental protection, public health, and efficient resource management.

Examples of Smart City Projects

  • Smart Water Management: Implementing sensors to monitor and clean waterways, reducing pollution and improving water quality.
  • E-Health Services: Utilizing telemedicine and digital health records to streamline healthcare delivery and improve patient outcomes.
  • Intelligent Transport Systems: Enhancing traffic management through real-time data and smart signalling to reduce congestion.

Cultural and Social Projects

Brussels is deeply engaged in cultural and social initiatives that enrich the community and provide support to vulnerable groups. These projects aim to preserve cultural heritage, promote social inclusion, and ensure equitable access to resources and opportunities for all citizens.

Official City Website:

Examples of Cultural and Social Initiatives

  • Art in the City: Public art installations and events to celebrate diverse cultures and enhance public spaces.
  • Social Housing Programs: Providing affordable housing options for low-income families and individuals.
  • Community Centers: Offering programs and services tailored to support elderly citizens, refugees, and those with special needs.

Urban Planning and Development

Brussels undertakes significant urban planning and development projects with the aim of improving livability and meeting the challenges posed by climate change. These projects include the redevelopment of public spaces, expansion of green areas, and implementation of sustainable building practices.

Examples of Urban Development Projects

  • Green Roofs Initiative: Encouraging the installation of green roofs to reduce urban heat islands and enhance biodiversity.
  • Pedestrian Zones Expansion: Transforming central areas into pedestrian-friendly zones to decrease vehicle traffic and promote walking and cycling.
  • Energy-Efficient Building Retrofitting: Upgrading existing buildings to enhance energy performance and reduce carbon footprints.

Youth and Education

Brussels is dedicated to creating vibrant environments for students and young professionals. The city supports educational programs and initiatives that foster innovation, creativity, and professional development, ensuring that the young population is well-prepared for the future.

Examples of Youth and Education Initiatives

  • STEM Education Programs: Promoting science, technology, engineering, and mathematics through workshops and summer camps.
  • Entrepreneurship Incubators: Providing resources and support for young entrepreneurs to develop and launch their startups.
  • International Student Exchanges: Facilitating exchange programs with international universities to broaden educational and cultural experiences.

Benefits of Participation in Eurocities

Participation in the Eurocities network offers numerous benefits to Brussels. These include access to a vast network of cities, sharing best practices, and the opportunity to collaborate on innovative projects. Brussels also gains from policy influence at the European level, enhanced visibility, and the ability to attract funding and investments for urban development initiatives. Overall, being part of Eurocities strengthens Brussels’ capacity to address urban challenges and improve the quality of life for its residents.

City: Brussels, Belgium


Brussels is the capital city of Belgium and is situated in the central part of the country. It is located in the Brussels-Capital Region, which is one of the three regions of Belgium. Notably, Brussels lies along the Senne River and is near the geographical heart of Europe, making it an essential hub for European and international institutions.


The population of Brussels is approximately 1.2 million people, making it the largest city in Belgium. The city is highly diverse, with a substantial number of expatriates and foreign residents, given its role as the de facto capital of the European Union.

Economic Overview

Brussels has a robust and dynamic economy. The city’s economy is largely service-oriented, with key industries including financial services, public administration, real estate, and retail. As a hub for the European Union and NATO, Brussels hosts numerous international organizations, contributing significantly to its GDP. Key economic metrics include a GDP of approximately $160 billion.

Historical Significance

Brussels has a rich history dating back to its founding in the 10th century. Key historical events include its establishment as the capital of the Duchy of Brabant, its central role in the 1830 Belgian Revolution, and its occupation during both World Wars. The city has been a significant cultural and political center in Europe for centuries.

Cultural Attractions

  • Grand Place: The central square of Brussels, known for its ornate guildhalls and the Town Hall.
  • Atomium: A landmark building and museum constructed for the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair (Expo 58).
  • Royal Palace: The official palace of the King and Queen of Belgium.
  • Magritte Museum: A museum dedicated to the works of the surrealist artist René Magritte.
  • Manneken Pis: A famous bronze statue of a little boy urinating into a fountain.

Education System

Primary and Secondary Education

Brussels has a comprehensive education system that includes numerous public and private schools offering primary and secondary education. The city caters to its international population with several international schools providing various curriculums, including the International Baccalaureate.

Higher Education Institutions

  • Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB): A French-speaking public research university.
  • Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB): A Dutch-speaking public research university.
  • Saint-Louis University, Brussels: A French-speaking university specialized in social sciences and humanities.

Transportation Infrastructure

Brussels has a well-developed transportation network. It includes:

  • Public Transit: The city is served by an extensive public transit system comprising buses, trams, and a metro network operated by STIB/MIVB.
  • Brussels Airport: The main international airport located in Zaventem, providing extensive global connections.
  • Train Network: Brussels is a major railway hub with international connections through the Brussels-South Railway Station, including high-speed trains like Thalys and Eurostar.
  • Road Infrastructure: Well-maintained roadways and ring roads facilitating local and international travel.

Urban Development Projects

  • Tour & Taxis: A large-scale redevelopment project transforming former industrial areas into mixed-use neighborhoods with residential, commercial, and recreational spaces.
  • Brussels’ New North District: A significant development aimed at enhancing office space, housing, and green areas.

Environmental Initiatives

Brussels has undertaken numerous initiatives to boost environmental sustainability:

  • Good Move Plan: A comprehensive mobility plan to reduce traffic congestion and lower carbon emissions.
  • Green Spaces: Investments in parks and green spaces such as the Parc de Bruxelles and Bois de la Cambre.
  • Energy-Efficient Buildings: Regulations and incentives to promote energy efficiency in both public and private buildings.

Quality of Living

Brussels is considered a high-quality living city with excellent healthcare services, safety measures, and a wide array of amenities such as shopping centers, restaurants, and cultural venues. The city also boasts a vibrant expatriate community, making it welcoming to foreigners.

Quality of Life Indexes

Various indexes underscore the quality of life in Brussels:

  • Mercer Quality of Living Index: Consistently ranks Brussels as one of the top cities for quality of living.
  • Numbeo Safety Index: High safety ratings due to effective law enforcement and community policing.
  • Environmental Performance Index: Belgium ranks well globally, reflecting Brussels’ commitment to environmental sustainability.

Mayor Profile: Philippe Close


Philippe Close

Current Position

Mayor of Brussels, Belgium

Political Affiliation

Socialist Party (PS)


  • Master’s Degree in Political Science, Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB)

Professional Background

Before becoming the Mayor of Brussels, Philippe Close held several significant roles:

  • Chief of Staff for the then-Mayor of Brussels, Freddy Thielemans
  • Brussels City Councillor
  • President of the Brussels Intercommunal Transport Company (STIB)
  • Director General for the City of Brussels’ Tourism and Culture Agency

Achievements as Mayor

During his tenure, Philippe Close has spearheaded numerous initiatives and projects:

  • Sustainability: Implemented the “Good Move” program aimed at improving mobility and reducing emissions.
  • Urban Development: Launched the “Plan Canal,” a comprehensive redevelopment project along the canal in Brussels, including green spaces and mixed-use developments.
  • Technological Advancements: Promoted the implementation of smart city technology to enhance public services and urban infrastructure, including innovative public safety solutions and traffic management systems.

Vision for the Future

Philippe Close envisions a forward-thinking, inclusive Brussels with a focus on:

  • Smart City Initiatives: Expanding digital infrastructure to create a more interconnected and efficient city.
  • Environmental Sustainability: Achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 through the promotion of renewable energy and green initiatives.
  • Community Engagement: Strengthening community participation in decision-making processes by establishing more local forums and feedback mechanisms.

Personal Life

Outside of his mayoral responsibilities, Philippe Close is known for his commitment to community and environmental causes. His personal interests include:

  • Gardening and urban agriculture
  • Historical preservation and cultural heritage of Brussels
  • Outdoor activities such as hiking and cycling

Awards and Honors

In recognition of his contributions to the city and his leadership, Philippe Close has received several awards:

  • Order of Leopold, Officer Class (Belgium’s most prestigious honor)
  • Green City Award for Urban Development Initiatives
  • Innovative Mayor Award by the European Commission for Smart City projects

Brussels: Quality of Life and Cost of Living

Quality of Life


Brussels, the capital city of Belgium, has a safety index of 55.65. This indicates a relatively secure environment, allowing residents and visitors to move around with a sense of safety. The city takes several measures to ensure public safety, including a well-coordinated police force and several community policing initiatives.


The healthcare quality index in Brussels is 78.46, reflecting the high standard of medical services available. The city is home to numerous hospitals and specialized clinics, ensuring that residents have access to comprehensive healthcare. Notable facilities include UZ Brussel and Cliniques universitaires Saint-Luc, which are known for their top-tier medical services and research capabilities.


Brussels maintains a pollution index of 65.57. While this indicates a moderate level of pollution, the city is active in implementing green initiatives and policies aimed at reducing environmental impact. Parks like Parc du Cinquantenaire and Bois de la Cambre offer residents green spaces for recreation and relaxation.


The transportation system in Brussels is well-developed, as evidenced by a transit score of 100.82. The city offers an extensive network of buses, trams, and metro lines operated by STIB/MIVB, making public transportation both reliable and efficient. Additionally, the city promotes sustainable transport options such as bike-sharing programs and electric scooters.


Brussels is home to several prestigious educational institutions, including Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) and Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). These universities are renowned for their research and high academic standards, offering a range of programs in various fields of study. International schools and other educational facilities also ensure a high standard of education for expatriate families.

Cost of Living


The cost of renting a 1-bedroom apartment in the city center of Brussels averages around €869.78 per month. This is relatively affordable compared to other major European capitals, allowing residents to enjoy comfortable living arrangements without extremely high rental costs.

Groceries and Dining

  • Monthly grocery costs for a single person: €262.50
  • Average cost of dining out at a mid-range restaurant for two: €60

Grocery prices in Brussels are generally reasonable, and the city offers a variety of dining options, ranging from casual eateries to fine dining establishments. This ensures that residents have access to a wide range of food choices at different price points.


The monthly utility costs for an 85m2 apartment in Brussels are approximately €137.36. These costs typically cover electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage disposal. Efficient utility services and modern infrastructure contribute to a convenient and comfortable living experience.


The cost of a monthly public transport pass in Brussels is €49, making it an economical option for daily commutes and travel within the city. The public transport system is not only cost-effective but also widely accessible, connecting various parts of the city efficiently.


  • Monthly fees for fitness club membership: €41.32
  • Cost of a cinema ticket: €10

Brussels offers a variety of entertainment options that are accessible and affordable. Whether enjoying a fitness regimen at a local gym, catching the latest blockbuster, or exploring cultural events, residents can indulge in leisure activities without breaking the bank.

Role within the Eurocities Network

As a key member of the Eurocities network, Brussels plays a pivotal role in enhancing urban life quality and cost-effective living. The city is consistently involved in initiatives aimed at improving sustainability, cultural exchange, and economic growth. Its strategic position as the administrative heart of the European Union also underscores its importance in fostering collaboration among European cities to address common urban challenges.

In summary, Brussels offers a high quality of life coupled with a manageable cost of living. The city’s robust healthcare system, efficient public transportation, and vibrant educational institutions contribute to making it an attractive location for residents. While the cost of necessities like housing, groceries, and entertainment are balanced, making Brussels a favorable option for individuals and families alike. According to data from Numbeo, the city successfully balances quality of life with affordability.

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