- The agglomeration (agglomération, agglomer-atie) of Brussels denotes the grouping of the city with 18 surrounding communes. The establishment of a regional entity for the capital area took place within the context of demands for devolution of political structures and powers across Belgium. Its antecedent is traced to the cuve that existed from the 14th century until the end of the 18th century. The boroughs secured complete independence in 1795, but, as early as 1824 and repeatedly after national independence in 1830, officials in Brussels petitioned the government for greater metropolitan powers together with expansion of the city's territory to include adjacent communities, whose residents benefited from city services borne solely at the city's expense.A bill to annex neighboring suburbs was defeated in the Chamber of Representatives in 1854 and, in 1873, the government disallowed creation of a province of Brussels. Four bills to secure a fusion of communes or annexation of territory failed in 1911, 1920, and 1922. Bits of adjoining territory were acquired in the 19th century, notably the Leopold district, and a sizable increase was secured in 1921 with the annexation of Laeken, Haren, and Neder-over-Heembeek.A consultative Conference of Burgomasters established an intercommunal commission in 1922 that drafted a proposal to create a metropolitan council of delegates from the communes competent to deal with areawide services such as transport, public works, fire protection, and public health. However, the city of Brussels opposed the scheme. During World War II, a decree of 24 September 1942 imposed a "Greater Brussels" (Gross Brüssel) government of 19 communes.A national language boundary was fixed (Act of 8 November 1962) and the district (arrondissement) of Brussels was split into three new administrative districts, including the Brussels Capital area, the only bilingual district in Belgium. The agglomeration of the 19 communes included in the district was organized by a law of 26 July 1971, and it entered into operation on 15 June 1972. On 21 November 1971, voters elected members of a Greater Brussels Council for the agglomeration, which was also endowed with a college of aldermen (échevins, schepenen). A regional council composed of national senators and one-half of the members of the agglomeration council served as a consultative organ. The 19 communes were together accorded self-governing powers in urban planning, transportation, health, economic development, and public security.The 1971 elections were the only ones ever held, the elections having been won by the Rassemblement bruxellois, a coalition of liberals and partisans of the Front démocratique des Francophones, which managed to exclude committed Flemish-rights candidates from securing council seats by inscribing moderates on electoral lists, a tactic that irritated national authorities and helped stymie progress toward federalization. The institutions of the agglomeration were succeeded by those of the Brussels Capital Region.
Historical Dictionary of Brussels. Paul F. State.