Edited by Jan M. Smits
Chapter 9: Belgium
From a constitutional point of view Belgium (België/Belgique/Belgien) is a very peculiar country. As a federal state, it is composed of communities and regions (section 2) and its constitutional model is a complicated model for countries composed of different populations. Belgium is divided into four language areas: the larger Dutch and French areas, the small German area (a few municipalities in the predominantly French-speaking province of Liege), and the bilingual area of Brussels. Except for the area of Brussels, all areas are monolingual which implies that the language of the area (Dutch, French or German) has to be used by the administration of that area and by the citizens in their relations with the administration. In a few municipalities, however, located near another language area, the citizens are allowed to use their own language in their relations with the authorities. Federal statutes are published in Dutch and French. The language to be used in court proceedings is Dutch in the Dutch area, French in the French area, German in the German area and Dutch or French in the bilingual area of Brussels. Belgian law is rooted in the French legal tradition. The Belgian Civil Code is based on the Napoleonic Civil Code (section 3).
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