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Places of Refuge: the Belgian Experience

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Chapter Summary

Belgium's history is marked by economic ups and downs that were time and again caused by the changes in the political and legal regime of the mouth of the vital river Scheldt. In the 16th century, the city of Antwerp was the largest maritime and commercial centre of Europe, with a population of more than 100,000 inhabitants. From a legal point of view, Belgian decision-making in cases of ships in distress has become rather complicated since the recent devolution of powers. Today, Belgium is a federal state with three autonomous regions (Flanders, Wallonia, Brussels) that have their own parliaments and governments. Current Belgian legislation contains a number of provisions that have a direct bearing on place of refuge and distress situations.

Keywords: Belgian legislation; place of refuge; river Scheldt

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