Brussels

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Definition

Brussels is officially the Brussels Capital-Region, is the capital city of the European Union (EU) and the largest urban area in Belgium.

Brussels serves as capital of the European Union, hosting the major political institutions of the Union. The EU has not declared a capital formally, though the Treaty of Amsterdam formally gives Brussels the seat of the European Commission (the executive branch) and the Council of the European Union (a legislative and executive body, the main institution). It locates the formal seat of European Parliament in the French city of Strasbourg, where votes take place, however meetings of political groups and committee groups (where most work takes place) are formally given to Brussels along with a set number of plenary sessions. Three quarters of Parliament now takes place at its Brussels hemicycle. Between 2002 and 2004, the European Council also fixed its seat in the city.

Brussels, along with Luxembourg and Strasbourg, began to host institutions in 1957, soon becoming the centre of activities as the Commission and Council based their activities in what has become the "European Quarter". Early building in Brussels was sporadic and uncontrolled with little planning, the current major buildings are the Berlaymont building of the Commission, symbolic of the quarter as a whole, the Justus Lipsius building of the Council and the Espace Léopold of Parliament. Today the presence has increased considerably with the Commission alone occupying 865,000m² within the "European Quarter" in the east of the city (a quarter of the total office space in Brussels. The concentration and density has caused concern that the presence of the institutions has caused a "ghetto effect" in that part of the city. However the presence has contributed significantly to the importance of Brussels as an international centre.

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