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  • Foto van schrijverMira Kaloshi

The ‘Battle for Brussels’ is overrated

Bijgewerkt op: 8 feb.

Recently, Politico delved into the so-called "Battle for Brussels" in the context of Belgium's eternal confederalism debate. Yet another article about a conversation that may exist outside the borders of Brussels, but not inside them.

From a Brusseleir’s perspective, the story of an impending divorce and a fierce battle over the capital does not see the forest for the trees. Here’s why.

First of all, the idea that Brussels' residents spend their nights worrying about the possible breakup of our country is, to put it mildly, far-fetched. Our concerns are much more direct, practical and focused on the day-to-day management and administration of our city.

Politico's article, while insightful in its analysis, seems to overlook the reality on the ground: the split debate is not our central preoccupation.

One of the most pressing issues for us is the confusing web of powers within Brussels itself. Our city is a vivid illustration of the broader Belgian issue: a complex, sometimes Kafkaesque overlap of responsibilities between different levels of government.

Although from an outsider's perspective it seems that there is a 'battle for Brussels', from a Brusseleir's point of view we are facing a different type of battle. One that, once understood and accepted, can even serve the Belgian question: the battle of competences.

This narrative is fundamentally about efficiency, a concern that truly resonates through the night in Brussels, rather than a populist struggle over the city waged by politicians oblivious to the fact that 60% of Brussels' residents carry a non-Belgian origin , and thus haven’t suffered the community fever.

Arguably, the path forward for Brussels, and by extension Belgium, is less about division and more about enhancing efficiency, forging a competence-debate and reducing bureaucratic redundancies.

If Brussels can lead by example, adopting a more unified and coherent administrative framework, it could set a valuable precedent for the entire country. Such a shift towards centralising efforts and clarifying competencies would not only benefit Brussels but could also inspire a broader national dialogue on governance, moving away from the pitfalls of decentralisation that have hampered effective administration.

Lastly, the real concerns that occupy Brussels' residents are decidedly more grounded: from navigating the complexities of a bilingual education system to addressing housing and mobility challenges, and wishing that our streets weren’t covered in dirt.

These issues reflect a pragmatic approach to urban living, emphasising the need for effective governance over divisive debates. As observers and participants in this vibrant city, we recognise the discussions about Belgium's division as largely irrelevant to our daily lives, focusing instead on the tangible steps that can make Brussels, and by extension Belgium, a better place to live.

The narratives of division may capture the imagination of some, but for Brussels' residents, the priority remains on making our city work for everyone.

Published at Brussels Times

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