A massive security operation is underway in the Belgian capital as EU and Asian leaders gather for a key summit on trade, money and the climate.
The three days of meetings at the biennial Asia-Europe are intended to break down barriers between countries representing more than half the world’s population.
But the participants are keen to stress it is more than just a glorified talking shop.
The signing of a free-trade pact between Europe and South Korea on Wednesday will be the highlight of the gathering as the EU seeks to match the rise of emerging powers such as India and China.
Beijing is also expected to come under pressure to reign in its currency, the yuan, amid claims it is overvalued, in order to make both the euro and the dollar more competitive.
There are also big differences between the EU and China over human rights, with EU officials expected to raise their concerns.