The Benelux


© SIP / Jean-Christophe Verhaegen, all rights reserved


The Benelux Union brings together the kingdoms of Belgium and the Netherlands as well as the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. The acronym 'Benelux' incorporates the names of the three countries (Belgique/België, Nederland, Luxembourg).


Sharing the same political destiny throughout long periods of their history, the three countries recognised the necessity of closer cooperation following the events of the First and particularly the Second World War.

The Benelux was founded on 5 September 1944, when the governments of the three countries (still in exile in London) signed a customs union agreement which came into effect on 1 January 1948. A series of agreements led to the Benelux Economic Union, established on 3 February 1958 in The Hague.

Subsequently, projects on a larger scale like the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the European Economic Community took over from an economic perspective. Consequently, the economic dominance of the Benelux made way for a more political cooperation on a wider variety of topics.

On 17 June 2008, the cooperation was renewed and now bore the name of The Benelux Union. Today it mainly concentrates on three key themes: the internal market and the economy, security and society, as well as sustainable and digital cooperation.


The Benelux functions through several institutions:

  • the Committee of Ministers (Comité des ministres) is the highest decision-making body which determines the strategy and priorities of the Benelux cooperation;
  • the responsibilities of the Benelux Council (Conseil Benelux) include the preparation of files for ministers;
  • the Benelux Secretariat-General (Secrétariat général Benelux) initiates, supports and ensures cooperation in the fields of the economy, sustainability and security;
  • the Benelux Interparliamentary Consultative Council (Conseil interparlementaire consultatif de Benelux - Benelux Parliament) consists of 49 deputies from the three countries, who inform and advise their respective governments on Benelux issues;
  • the Benelux Court of Justice (Cour de Justice Benelux) promotes uniformity in the application of Benelux legislation (intellectual property, penalty payment, recovery of tax claims, protection of birds, equality in tax treatment). It has binding decision-making powers regarding the Benelux common legal provisions.

Moreover, the Benelux Organisation for Intellectual Property and the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property are responsible for intellectual property issues within the Benelux.

The presidency of the Benelux is held in turn by the three countries for a period of one year. The most recent Luxembourg presidency was in 2016.

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