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Brussels Voice: Internationals team up with MPs to make mobility recommendations
A group of Brussels’ expats have joined regional MPs and staff from different political parties in co-drafting mobility recommendations for the capital.
The panel of 45 non-Belgian residents were recruited by Brussels Voice in an initiative giving the international community a say on regional policies affecting their daily lives.
They were selected to take part in three workshops before spending the day working alongside MPs in a deliberative committee on 14 October.
The Brussels Voice 23 discussions revealed that the international community is generally supportive of the region’s ambitions to make green mobility the key to an accessible city of liveable communities.
However, the participants were critical of the institutional barriers to more integrated mobility systems – especially when it comes to better public transport connections with the periphery as an alternative to commuting by car.
They also expressed concerns about safety on the roads and security in public transport spaces, particularly for vulnerable travellers. Finally, the recommendations called for a dedicated international bus station.
A full report presenting all the proposals in detail will be published soon and submitted to the parliament’s mobility committee for further reflection.
President of Brussels Parliament mobility committee Anne-Charlotte d'Ursel was not surprised that the International Brusselers wanted to discuss mobility “because there is so much room for improvement”.
She said the format made it possible to listen to the aspirations and concerns of citizens who have generally benefited from experiences abroad. “Accessibility of the city (children, the elderly, people with reduced mobility), connections between intra- and inter-regional means of transport, safety (road safety, but also safety in public spaces and on public transport) and city planning are the five themes that gave rise to recommendations...”
Participant Clara Ouvrier said: “Mobility was the best topic I could possibly wish for. There is so much happening to all of us when we walk, cycle, drive or take public transport. I come across a lot of positive things, a sense of freedom, or pleasant encounters. But also, quite some negative ones that I wish could change or stop, like street harassment for instance.”
The day-long discussion was empowering, she added. “To see that these personal experiences were heard and valued, that I am not the only one that wants to see some things change. Brussels Voice 23 made me feel like I somehow gave back to the community that is hosting me.”
Democracy platform Brussels Voice was launched in 2021 as an initiative of the Brussels Commission for Europe and International Organisations. It also runs the Welcome Desk, a practical service for newly-arrived EU workers and other expats living in the capital.
Brussels Voice aims to address the democratic deficit that arises from the fact that one-third of Brussels’ population cannot vote in regional elections because they do not have Belgian nationality.
Pointing out that international organisations accounted for more than 20% of economic output and employment in the region, Brussels Commissioner for Europe and International Organisations Alain Hutchinson (pictured above) said: “The right to vote must remain our ultimate goal for these communities.”
Photos: ©Brussels Voice