|Brussels EU headquarters |
The capital and seat of the ruling house of the Kingdom of Belgium is embedded in the Brussels Basin between the lowlands of Flanders and the Brabant Plateau. The administrative district of the city has only 140,000 inhabitants. With an area of 162 square kilometres, the capital region expanded into a metropolis of millions through the incorporation of 18 other, largely autonomous communities. Foreigners account for roughly one-third of the population. A substantial number of them are employed by the numerous international organizations and institutions that have established their headquarters in Brussels.
The European Quarter
The map shows the district known as the European Quarter, in which the majority of European political and administrative institutions are concentrated. It is separated by the eastern section of the Avenue des Arts, the inner-urban ring road, from the historical city centre and the government district, which is home to the National Parliament, the Royal Palace, the Royal Library and the Palace of the Fine Arts, among other institutions. The European Quarter is bordered to the east by the Jubilee Park (Parc du Cinquantenaire). The park was built on former exercise grounds outside the city centre in honour of the 50th anniversary of Belgium's independence in 1880. Today, one of Brussels' main traffic arteries runs through the 37-hectare park. The Arch of Triumph with its quadriga was opened at the east entrance to the park in 1905. The long buildings on each side of the arch now house the Military and Automobile Museum.
In 1958, the year of the World Exposition, Brussels became the seat of the European Economic Community, the predecessor of the European Union. NATO moved its headquarters from Paris to Brussels in 1967. Since 1988/89 the capital city of Brussels has been the third distinct (bilingual) region of the country, after the Flemish and Walloon regions.
The process of redesigning the old Leopold Quarter with its many art nouveau mansions into a progressively growing "Cité Européene" full of modern administrative palaces began with the cross-shaped Berlaymont Building, the seat of the European Commission, in the 1960s. The Council of Ministers of the European Union meets across the street from the European Commission. In future, the meetings of the European Council will be held in the Résidence Palace. The new European Parliament building, a complex structure composed of glass, steel and concrete, stands between the Place de Luxembourg and the Leopoldpark. The diplomatic mission of the Free State of Bavaria to the European Union is accommodated in the former Institut Pasteur in the north-western section of the former 19th-century "Pleasure Garden". The headquarters of the European Economic and Social Committee are located just a few minutes' walk from there. The Committee advises the organs of the EU in economic and social matters.
In addition to the many administrative agencies and institutions of the European Union, numerous special-interest groups, lobbyists and multinational corporations have established offices near the European decision-making bodies. The resulting rapid rise in the demand for office space has forced the resident population to move to the outer fringes of Brussels.
Other Cities of Europe
Brussels is not the only "City of Europe". Luxembourg is home to the Secretary General of the European Parliament, the European Court of Justice, the European Court of Auditors and the European Investment Bank. The Council of Europe is located in Strasbourg, which is also the seat of the European Ombudsman and the European Parliament, where twelve monthly sessions are scheduled each year.
U. Kleinelümern, E. Astor; Ü: Southard
Keywords: administration Belgium Brussels city European Union (EU) international organization Luxembourg main business district NATO Strasbourg
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