The use of structural funds in Brussels

To many people Europe is synonymous with European institutions, made-to-measure suits, bureaucracy, Eurocrats. Brussels residents are for the most part unaware that the European Union invests millions of euros in their city.

Through the European regional policy (collective term for the various European structural funds) Europe provides aid to the Union’s most vulnerable regions, since Europe strives for social and economic cohesion on its territory and aims to tackle socio-economic inequality between the various regions.

In practical terms, this means that the European Union invests in neglected Brussels neighbourhoods through said structural funds. These funds are used to renovate a district centre, to open a new crèche, to grant microcredits to residents who want to start a business, etc.  It always involves co-financing: with the financing of a project, half is carried by European structural funds, the other half by the local authorities.

Brussels receives funds through:

  • The European Regional Development Fund. The ERDF is followed up in Belgium by the regions.
  • The European Social Fund. ESF is followed up in Belgium by the communities.

More information?

What does Europe mean to us?

In order to better inform Brussels residents about what Europe does in their neighbourhood, the Europe.Brussels Liaison Office works with the Brussels college of higher education IHECS. In 2009 and 2010 we jointly completed the project What does Europe mean to us?

For one week a class of IHECS journalism students went into vulnerable neighbourhoods in Brussels, in search of projects completed with European structural funds. Armed with a notebook they explored the area and questioned clubs, residents, businesses and municipal staff. The results can be read in the newspaper What does Europe mean to us?

No complex articles, just clear reports using simple language. The newspaper was printed in 10,000 copies and distributed in the Brussels municipalities eligible for structural funds. Would you like to receive a copy of this newspaper (2010 edition)? Send an e-mail to for the hard copy or download here the PDF file in Dutch or in French.