48 hours in Brussels: A development insider's guide

By Bill Hinchberger

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.

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This article was last updated on 26 April 2017

About the author

Bill hinchberger
Bill Hinchberger@hinchberger

Bill Hinchberger is Devex's Paris correspondent. In his spare time, he's a freelance writer, communications consultant and educator. A native of California, he lived in Latin America for over two decades, reporting for media such as The Financial Times and Business Week. He also served as president of the São Paulo Foreign Press Club and founded the online travel guide BrazilMax.com. Assignments have taken him to over 30 countries, from Cuba to Egypt, India, Kenya, Turkey, and beyond.

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