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Belgium and Netherlands sign deal to redraw border

Nov 28, 2016
0

Belgium and the Netherlands have signed a treaty to redraw their border, with each country handing over a few hectares of land on the Meuse river to their neighbour.

The land swap near Maastricht was signed by the Belgian and Dutch foreign ministers on Monday, in the presence of King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium, and King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands.

Belgian foreign minister Didier Reynders said: "This could be the first time that a border has been redrawn without any war, any crisis or any conflict."

The Dutch-Belgian border follows the old course of the Meuse river. But when the river's path was straightened in 1961 to ease navigation, this created three small parcels of land on either side of the new river that belonged to the wrong country.

This led to jurisdictional problems. A Belgian parcel of land on the Dutch side of the river was often used for illegal parties and drug dealing, and Belgian police could only access the area by boat without obtaining permission to cross Dutch territory.

If the land swap is ratified by both countries' parliaments next year, it will take effect on 1 January 2018. A three-hectare peninsula switches from Dutch to Belgian ownership. Belgium will hand 13 hectares of land to the Netherlands. The affected areas have no inhabitants or properties.

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