The Vibrant and Diverse Brussels-Capital Region: A Thriving Urban Haven for Culture, Sustainability, and International Flair


Robert Eduard Antal » Urban Innovation » Urban Development Success Stories from Brussels

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

Innovation and Sustainability

Brussels stands as a leader in the Eurocities network, showcasing its commitment to sustainability and innovation. The city has set ambitious goals to reduce CO2 emissions and promote green technology. By integrating renewable energy sources, improving public transportation, and fostering eco-friendly initiatives, Brussels aims to create a sustainable urban environment for its residents.

Smart City Initiatives

As a smart city, Brussels leverages cutting-edge technology to enhance urban life. These technological advancements focus on critical areas such as environmental preservation, healthcare, and public safety.

Examples of Smart City Projects

  • Implementation of smart water management systems to clean and maintain waterways
  • Deployment of IoT devices to monitor air quality and reduce pollution
  • Development of e-health platforms to provide accessible healthcare services
  • Integration of smart mobility solutions, including bike-sharing and electric buses

Cultural and Social Projects

Brussels is actively engaged in cultural and social projects that support vulnerable groups and promote inclusivity. These initiatives ensure that all citizens have access to cultural, educational, and social opportunities.

Official City Website:

Examples of Cultural and Social Initiatives

  • The Parvis of St. Gilles market that brings together diverse communities
  • Social housing projects that provide affordable living spaces for low-income families
  • Programs for the integration of immigrants and refugees
  • Art and cultural festivals aimed at fostering community spirit and cultural exchange

Urban Planning and Development

Brussels is dedicated to implementing significant urban development projects that enhance livability while addressing climate change. The city’s urban planning efforts focus on creating green spaces, improving infrastructure, and reducing the environmental footprint.

Examples of Urban Development Projects

  • The development of pedestrian zones and car-free areas in the city center
  • Creation of green rooftops and urban gardens to increase biodiversity
  • Retrofitting buildings to improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions
  • The Canal Plan aimed at revitalizing neighborhoods along the Brussels-Charleroi Canal

Youth and Education

Brussels strives to create vibrant environments for students and young professionals, providing numerous opportunities for educational growth and career development. The city’s focus on youth and education fosters a thriving community for future generations.

Examples of Youth and Education Initiatives

  • The Digital Brussels initiative which offers coding and digital skills training for young people
  • Support for student entrepreneurship through incubators and startup hubs
  • Numerous cultural and educational programs in schools to promote diversity and creativity
  • Partnerships with universities and research institutions to provide real-world learning experiences

Benefits of Participation in Eurocities

By participating in the Eurocities network, Brussels enjoys numerous benefits, including access to a platform for sharing best practices, collaboration on innovative projects, and the opportunity to influence European policies. This participation not only enhances the quality of life for its citizens but also positions Brussels as a model city in sustainability and innovation.

City Name



Brussels is the capital city of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union. Situated in the central part of the country, Brussels is surrounded by the region of Flanders to the north and south, and it lies in close proximity to the geographical heart of Europe. The city is bisected by the Senne River, and it’s located about 100 kilometers (62 miles) inland from the North Sea.


As of the latest estimates, Brussels has a population of approximately 1.2 million people. The city is highly diverse, with a significant proportion of international residents owing to its status as the EU capital. This multiculturalism is reflected in the wide array of languages spoken, though French and Dutch are the official languages.

Economic Overview

Brussels serves as a major economic hub in Europe. Key industries include international governance and public administration, due to the presence of the European Commission, European Parliament, and NATO headquarters. Additionally, the city has a strong finance sector, with numerous banks and financial institutions. Other important sectors include information and communication technology, pharmaceuticals, and tourism. The city’s GDP contribution is substantial, making it one of the wealthiest regions in Belgium.

Historical Significance

Founded in the 10th century, Brussels has a rich historical tapestry. It became the capital of the Duchy of Brabant and later, one of the essential cities in the Spanish Netherlands. The city was key during the Belgian Revolution in 1830, which led to Belgium’s independence. Over the centuries, Brussels has witnessed various historical events, from medieval trade fairs to modern-day EU summits.

Cultural Attractions

  • Grand Place: A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this central square is renowned for its opulent architecture.
  • Atomium: A modernist landmark building originally constructed for the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair.
  • Manneken Pis: This iconic statue of a little boy urinating is a symbol of Brussels’ irreverent spirit.
  • Royal Museums of Fine Arts: A complex of museums that includes works from old masters to contemporary artists.
  • Comic Strip Museum: Showcasing Belgium’s influential comic strip art, including Tintin and The Smurfs.

Education System

Primary and Secondary Education

Brussels offers a wide range of primary and secondary educational institutions, both public and private, with options for instruction in French, Dutch, and English.

Higher Education

The city is home to several renowned universities and colleges, such as the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB) and Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). Cosmopolitan student bodies enhance the richness of educational life in the city.

Transportation Infrastructure

Brussels boasts an extensive transportation network. Public transit is managed by STIB/MIVB and includes buses, trams, and a comprehensive metro system. Brussels has two major railway stations, Brussels-North and Brussels-South, which offer national and international connections, including high-speed trains like the Thalys and Eurostar. The city is also serviced by Brussels Airport (Zaventem) and Brussels South Charleroi Airport.

Urban Development Projects

  • EU Quarter Revitalization: Enhancements to buildings and public spaces in the European Quarter.
  • Pedestrian Zones: Expansion of pedestrian-friendly areas, particularly in the city center.
  • Green Spaces: Initiatives to create and refurbish parks and green belts.

Environmental Initiatives

Brussels is committed to environmental sustainability through various initiatives. These include the promotion of renewable energy, waste reduction programs, and the development of green buildings. The city also encourages the use of bicycles and electric vehicles to reduce carbon emissions.

Quality of Living

Brussels offers a high quality of life, with excellent healthcare facilities, a strong public safety record, and a wide range of amenities including restaurants, shops, and recreational options. The city’s multicultural environment further enriches its social and cultural fabric.

Quality of Life Indexes

  • Livability Ranking: Brussels consistently ranks high on livability indexes due to its robust infrastructure, cultural vibrancy, and political stability.
  • Health Index: The city has advanced healthcare services, contributing to a high health index.
  • Environmental Quality Scores: Initiatives to reduce pollution and enhance green spaces make Brussels a leader in environmental quality.

Profile of Mayor Philippe Close


Philippe Close

Current Position

Mayor of Brussels, Belgium

Political Affiliation

Member of the Socialist Party (Parti Socialiste – PS)


  • Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration – Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB)
  • Master’s Degree in European Studies – Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB)

Professional Background

Philippe Close has a robust background in public service and local government:

  • Started his career as a parliamentary assistant in the Belgian federal parliament.
  • Worked as the Chief of Staff for the Mayor of Brussels, guiding key projects and policy implementations.
  • Elected as a city councilor, where he focused on urban planning, heritage, and tourism.
  • Before becoming mayor, served as Alderman for Tourism and Major Events in Brussels, enhancing the city’s profile through strategic event planning and tourism management.

Achievements as Mayor

Since taking office, Philippe Close has spearheaded several significant initiatives:

  • Sustainability: Launched the “Brussels Green Initiative,” focusing on increasing green spaces and urban biodiversity.
  • Urban Development: Initiated the “Smart Brussels 2025” project, aimed at modernizing public services and infrastructure using smart technologies.
  • Technological Advancements: Implemented the “Digital Brussels” strategy, introducing free Wi-Fi in public spaces and advancing digital literacy programs.

Vision for the Future

Mayor Philippe Close envisions a future for Brussels that emphasizes:

  • Smart City Initiatives: Further integration of smart technologies to enhance urban living, including the expansion of IoT applications, smart traffic management, and improved public safety systems.
  • Environmental Sustainability: A commitment to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, with plans for more sustainable public transport, energy-efficient buildings, and increased use of renewable energy sources.
  • Community Engagement: Strengthening community ties through participatory governance, supporting local businesses, and fostering cultural activities that promote inclusivity and diversity.

Personal Life

Philippe Close is known for his commitment to community and environmental causes:

  • Enjoys participating in community events and local cultural activities.
  • Has a keen interest in cycling and often promotes bicycle-friendly policies in the city.
  • Involved in various environmental NGOs, advocating for urban sustainability and green policies.

Awards and Honors

  • Recipient of the “Green Mayor Award” for his efforts in urban sustainability (2021).
  • Named “Innovative Leader” by the European Smart Cities Congress for his contributions to the Smart Brussels initiative (2022).
  • Honored with the “Cultural Ambassador Award” for promoting Brussels as a vibrant and inclusive cultural hub (2020).

Brussels: Quality of Life and Cost of Living

Quality of Life


Brussels, the vibrant capital city of Belgium, maintains a relatively strong safety index of 55.34. This indicates a moderate level of safety, allowing residents to experience urban life with a reasonable sense of security.


The city’s healthcare system is highly rated, boasting a healthcare quality index of 72.91. Brussels offers robust healthcare services, with numerous hospitals and clinics, ensuring residents receive efficient medical care.


Brussels achieves a moderate pollution index of 61.68. Despite being a bustling metropolis, efforts are underway to maintain cleanliness and enhance the urban environment.


The transportation index for Brussels stands at 105.13, reflecting an excellent public transportation system. The city boasts an extensive network of trams, buses, and underground metros, facilitating easy commuting for its residents.


Brussels is renowned for its high-quality education, hosting notable institutions such as the Université Libre de Bruxelles and Vrije Universiteit Brussel. These universities contribute to the city’s reputation as a center for academic excellence in Europe.

Cost of Living


The cost of housing in Brussels is relatively high, with a one-bedroom apartment in the city center averaging €880.43 per month.

Groceries and Dining

  • Monthly grocery costs for a single person: €195.86
  • Dining out at a mid-range restaurant (for two): €60.00


Monthly utility expenses for an 85m2 apartment in Brussels are around €147.94, covering electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage service.


The cost of a monthly public transport pass is €49.00, reflecting the city’s well-developed and affordable public transport network.


  • Fitness club membership: €25.00 – €30.00 per month
  • Cinema ticket: Similar range, enhancing leisure and recreational opportunities for residents.

Brussels within the Eurocities Network

As a significant member of the Eurocities network, Brussels plays a crucial role in shaping urban policies at the European level. It collaborates with other major European cities to address common urban challenges, share best practices, and promote sustainable urban development. This engagement further enhances the city’s quality of life by fostering innovation and strategic planning in urban governance.

Source: Numbeo

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