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Brussels (Scotland says "Yes")

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Free City of Brussels
Ville Libre de Bruxelles
Vrije Stad Brussel
Timeline: Scotland says "Yes"
OTL equivalent: Brussels
Flag of the Brussels-Capital Region.svg Belgium brussels iris.svg
Anthem: 
Ode to Joy
Brussels Map SSY.png
Location of Brussels (dark green) within Flenebrulux (light green) and the European Union (Grey).
Capital
(and largest city)
Coat of Arms of BrusselsCity of Brussels
Official languages Dutch, French
Regional Languages German
Demonym Brussels
Government Unitary Presidential Republic
 -  President Rudi Vervoort
Legislature Parliament of the Free City of Brussels
Establishment
 -  Dissolution of Belgium 2015 
Area
 -  Total 161.38 km2 
62 sq mi 
Population
 -  2016 census 1,187,890 
 -  Density 7025/km2 
18,194.7/sq mi
GDP (nominal) 2012 estimate
 -  Total €132,917 million 
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 -  Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Date formats dd/mm/yyyy
Drives on the Right
Internet TLD .bx
Brussels (French: Bruxelles; Dutch: Brussel), officially the Free City of Brussels (French: Ville Libre de Bruxelles; Dutch: Vrije Stad Brussel), is a city-state in the former nation of Belgium. It was previously the capital of Belgium and part of both language communities, but after the Flanders left it in the Partition of Belgium, and Wallonia joined France, it became an independent city state. It remains the de facto Capital of the European Union, and some have lobbied for it to be directly administered. The city has a population of 1.8 million.

Since the end of the Second World War, Brussels has been a major centre for international politics, being the base of many international organisations, politicians, diplomats and civil servants. The de facto capital of the European Union, it hosts a number of EU Institutions. The secretariat of Flenelux and NATO are also located in Brussels.

Historically a Dutch-speaking city, it saw a language shift toward and from the late 19th century, and today the majority is French speaking. However, officially it is bilingual with road signs, street names and many advertisements and services shown in both languages (as well as German in some areas).

History

The origin of settlement of Brussels lies in Saint Gaugericus' construction of a chapel on an island in the river Senne around 580. The official founding of Brussels is usually situated around 979, when Duke Charles of oLower Lotharingia transferred the relics of Saint Gudula to the chapel, and began to build permanent fortifications.

Thanks the Brussels' location on the shores of the Seine, it became an important commercial centre on the trade route between Bruges, Ghent and Cologne, and the city grew quickly, As the population grew to around 30,000, the surrounding marshes were drained to allow for futher expansion.

City walls were built in the early 13th century, allowing further expanasion. In 1516 Charles V, heir of the Low Countries, was declared King of Spain, and upon the death of his grandfather, Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor, Charles became the ruler of the Habsburg Empire and Holy Roman Emperor.

In 1695, Louis XIV of France sent troops to bombard Brussels with artillery; together with the resulting fire, it was the most destructive event in the history of Brussels: the Grand Place was destroyed, along with 4000 buildings, a third of those in the city. The city was then successfully captured by French forces in 1746 during the War of the Austrian Succession, but was handed back to Austria three years later.

Brussels remained with Austria until 1795, when the Southern Netherlands were captured and annexed by France, and remained part until 1815 when it joined the United Kingdom of the Netherlands.

In 1830, the Belgian revolution took place in Brussels, and Brussels became the new government of the nation. On the 21st July 1831, Leopold I became the first King of the Belgians, and put the city under major renewal. Throughout this time, Brussels remained mostly a Dutch-speaking city, though until 1921 French, the language of nobility, was the sole official language.

During World War I, Brussels as occupied by German troops, but they did not cause much damage. The city was again occupied in World War II, and was spared major damage.

After the war, Brussels underwent extensive modernisation, especially with railway and metro railways stations. Starting from the 1960s, Brussels became the de facto capital of what would become the European Union, and many new modern buildings were constructed.

Independence

Main Article: Partition of Belgium

In 2015, Flemish independence again began to be prominent after Scotland successfully secured independence. During late February, rallies, and some riots, began in Flanders, in favour of Flemish Independence. In an attempt to appease them, the devolved Flemish government promised a referendum, and on the 23rd the Belgian government announced a referendum, to be held on the 11th April, which came in favour of independence. On the 3rd May, Belgian, Flemish and Walloon representatives met in Brussels discuss the future, with representatives from the German-Speaking Community arriving on the 18th, and EU, French and German diplomats on the 16th.

Ultimately, they decided to dissolve the Belgian state. Brussels would become an independent city-state, while the German-speaking community in far eastern Wallonia would become Independent. The Walloon province of Luxembourg would be ceded to the country of Luxembourg, whilst the rest of Wallonia, the French-speaking community, would become an integral province of France.

On the 22nd March 2016, three coordinated bombings occurred in Brussels, carried out by Da'esh, prompting international outrage.

Government

The Free City of Brussels is governed by a parliament of 89 members (72 French-speaking, 17 Dutch-speaking, with parties organised on a linguistic basis), and an eight-member cabinet consisting of a President, four ministers and three secretaries. This system takes the former one of the Brussels Capital Region of Belgium

2016 Election

Brussels Capital Region Parliament

Current makeup of the Parliament.

Despite there having been only a regional election only two years ago , another election was held in 2016, not least as some Brussels MPs also belonged to either the Flemish or French Parliaments. The new election returned exactly the same results as the 2014 election, giving further mandate to the Vervoot Parliament.

Economy

Serving as the centre of administration of the European Union, Brussels' economy is largely service-orientated, dominated by headquarters of many organisations. It has been proposed that part or the entirety be directly administered by the EU as a Capital District, or for the Brussels government to enforce a "tax" on these institutions.

International Institutions

Since WWII, Brussels has become the administrative centre of many international organisations. The European Union and NATO both have their main institutions in the city, alongside many other organisations, such as the World Customs Organisation and EUROCONTROL, and international corporations.

European Union

Quartier européen Bruxelles 2011-06 CROP

Aerial view of the European Quarter

Brussels serves as the de facto capital of the European Union, hosting the major political institutions. Whilst the EU has not declared a formal capital, the Treaty of Amsterdam formally gives Brussels the seat of the European Commission and the Council of the European Union. Indeed, with Brussels' independence, some have suggested that it should become the de jure capital of the EU.

Brussels, alongside Luxembourg and Strasbourg, began to host institutions in 1957, soon becoming the centre of the EU. Whilst buildings were originally sporadically built around the city, there is now a "European Quarter" in the east.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation

The Treaty of Brussels was a prelude to the establishment of the military alliance, which was probably put on 17th March 1948, between Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and United Kingdom. Today the NATO headquarters are located in Haren, part of the city.

International Relations

After the dissolution of Belgium, Brussels began its own Foreign Ministry. Whilst Wallonia became represented by French Embassies and Consuls, many former Belgian embassies are still representing Brussels, Eupen-Malmedy and Flanders, but are separating.

Brussels is a member of Flenebrulux, the successor the Benelux, and holds mainly positive relations with its fellow members. It holds relations with France.

Defence Forces

Brussels has no major standing army. With the dissolution of the Belgian state, The vast majority of the navy went to Flanders (with the rest going to France), whilst personnel from the remaining forces were restored to their new country; equipment was generally distributed depending on the ration of GDP. As such, Brussels relies on a small standing force, as well as riot and heavily equipped police. However, as a members of NATO, and the fact that it is surrounded by allies, it is assumed that attack by another nation is unlikely, and should it happen its neighbours would assist in defence.

The Brussels Defence Forces were involved in the lock down of the city after the 2016 Bombings.

Climate

Brussels experiences an oceanic climate, with nearby wetlands ensuring a temperate climate. On average, there are approximately 200 days of rain per year in Brussels, the highest amount of any European capital; there are often violent thunderstorms. Snowfall is infrequent, averaging 24 days per year.



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