1999: a crucial year
The disaster with the ‘Herald of Free Enterprise’ (1986) proved that there was hardly any coordinated cooperation between the different institutions. A better coordination and an efficient cooperation were indispensable.
In 1999, two new laws were ratified:
This meant that Belgium now carried the responsibility for an additional area, the size of a province. That is why it is sometimes referred to as ‘the eleventh province’ (Belgium consists of ten provinces).
In June 1999, the council of ministers decided to establish an Inter-Ministerial Economic Committee – "Subcommittee North Sea" and a working group Coast Guard.
This working group was responsible for making an inventory of
- the existing means that can be deployed at sea
- the maritime rules and regulations
- the responsibilities and competences of the different coast guard partners at sea
It was also responsible for preparing proposals for the establishment of a Belgian coastguard.
2003: The establishment of a structure Coast Guard
In 2003 the coast guard structure is ratified by Royal Decree. July 8, 2005 the federal government and the Flemish Authorities sign an agreement of cooperation. This means that all coast guard partners can fully participate and provides a new, more coherent, legal basis for the structure Coast Guard.
2007: Inauguration Maritime Security Centre Belgium
September 12, 2007 the Maritime Security Centre Belgium (MIK) was inaugurated. The MIK is based in the naval base in Zeebrugge. Units of the navy, the shipping police and Customs work together to ensure the maintenance of law and order at sea. Together with the Maritime Rescue and Coordination Centre (MRCC) in Ostend, the MIK forms the Coast Guard Centre. The MRCC is the first point of contact for vessels in distress.