48 hours in Brussels: A development insider's guide

The Grand Place in Brussels, Belgium. Photo by: Neil Girling / CC BY-NC-ND

Brussels might not equal the glitzy reputation of some European cities, but the Belgian capital can prove quite welcoming to visitors — especially to development professionals looking to sort out business with officials at the European Commission and other European institutions, agencies and bodies. The 1.2 million-strong city also hosts a slew of contractors, important outposts of international and regional NGOs, the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and of course the domestic Belgian Development Agency, or BTC.

“Brussels is a little village,” said Louise Hilditch, managing director of Local Knowledge, a firm that among other things helps international NGOs get set up in the European capital. “This is a very inclusive place. Everybody is from somewhere else.”

Most places of interest to development professionals are concentrated in a section of town appropriately called the European Quarter. They’re generally surrounded by a wide range of cafés, restaurants and bars. Below we offer few tips. Scroll down for addresses and links.

DEVCO, ECHO, and NGOs: European Quarter (west)

On the western end of the European Quarter, you’ll find the European Commission’s agencies for international development and cooperation: The European Commission Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development, or DEVCO, and the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, or ECHO.

This article is for Devex Members

For full access to the content of the article sign in or join Devex.
This article was last updated on 14 November 2017

About the author

  • Screen%2520shot%25202017 07 11%2520at%25204.36.06%2520am

    Bill Hinchberger

    Bill Hinchberger is a global communications professional and educator. He studied at Berkeley and has taught at the Sorbonne. Based mostly in Paris, he spends quality time in Brazil and the United States, and works extensively in Africa and Latin America. He has served as an international correspondent for The Financial Times, Business Week, ARTnews, Variety, and others. One current focus of his work is content creation for foundations, NGOs and other organizations, especially those working on issues related to international affairs, the environment and development. He also runs training programs for professional journalists, notably in Africa, and is an associate of Rain Barrel Communications, a leading consultancy for social justice projects.

Join the Discussion