Belgium and the Netherlands sign treaty to swap land

30 Nov 2016 | By Vijaya
The Netherlands-Belgium land swap treaty

Belgium and the Netherlands settled a long drawn territorial problem by signing a peaceful land exchange treaty.

Accordingly, Belgium will exchange its two uninhabited parcels of land, Presqu'ile de L'llal and Presqu'ile d'Eijsden for a Dutch piece of land, Presqu'ile Petit-Gravier.

These swathes of land are spread alongside their border at the Meuse river.

The new border will come into effect on 1 Jan.

In context: The Netherlands-Belgium land swap treaty

Meuse river as borderBorder between Belgium and the Netherlands

The current border between Belgium and the Netherlands was formally established as per the Treaty of Maastricht, in 1843. This follows the Meuse river.

For navigation purposes, the winding banks of Meuse river were reconfigured in 1961. As a result, three pieces of land ended on the wrong side of the border.

Thus, these areas became inaccessible by road to respective home countries.

30 Nov 2016Enclaves of lawlessness

The inaccessible uninhabited areas subsequently turned into enclaves where criminal activities thrived.

They gained a reputation for lawlessness, wild parties, drug dealers and prostitution.

The respective country authorities could only reach these areas by boat and with permission from neighboring government, which gave criminals enough time to escape.

This became a jurisdictional nightmare for both Belgium and the Netherlands.

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Negotiation process

Case of headless bodyNegotiation process

While negotiations to correct Belgium-Netherlands border date back to 1980s, they made a headway after an incident in 2012.

In 2012, a headless body was reported to Dutch authorities. Only, it was in Belgian territory. Belgian authorities on the other hand could only enter the area, which lacked proper boat landing zone, by crossing river.

This case fastened the border correction process.

30 Nov 2016Belgium and the Netherlands sign treaty to swap land

A second border correction between the Netherlands and Belgium

The land swap treaty is the second such border adjustment agreement between the Netherlands and Belgium, in 175 years.