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Benelux Union

Benelux Unie  (Dutch)
Union Benelux  (French)
Benelux Logo.svg
Benelux (orthographic projection).svg
Administrative centre
and largest agglomeration
50°51′N4°21′E / 50.850°N 4.350°E / 50.850; 4.350
Official languages Dutch and French [1]
Other official languages
of contracting states
German, Luxembourgish, West Frisian, English, Papiamento
Type Politico economic union
Member states
Legislature Parliament
 Customs union treaty signed
5 September 1944 [2]
 Customs union in effect
1 January 1948 [2]
 Renewal signed
17 June 2008
 Renewal in effect
1 January 2010
74,657 km2 (28,825 sq mi)
29.3 million (2018)
390.5/km2 (1,011.4/sq mi)
GDP  (PPP)2018 estimate
$1.580 trillion [3]
 Per capita
Currency Euro (EUR)
Time zone UTC+1 (CET)
 Summer (DST)
Driving side right

The Benelux Union (Dutch : Benelux Unie; [4] French : Union Benelux; [5] Luxembourgish : Benelux-Unioun), [6] also known as simply Benelux, is a politico-economic union of three neighboring states in western Europe: Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg. [7]

Dutch language West Germanic language

Dutch(Nederlands ) is a West Germanic language spoken by around 24 million people as a first language and 5 million people as a second language, constituting the majority of people in the Netherlands and Belgium. It is the third-most-widely spoken Germanic language, after its close relatives English and German.

French language Romance language

French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.

A political union is a type of state which is composed of or created out of smaller states. The process of creating such a state out of smaller states is called unification . Unification of states that used to be together and are reuniting is referred to as reunification. Unlike a personal union or real union, the individual states share a central government and the union is recognized internationally as a single political entity. A political union may also be called a legislative union or state union.


The name Benelux is formed from joining the first two or three letters of each country's name – Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg – and was first used to name the customs agreement that initiated the union (signed in 1944). [8] It is now used more generally to refer to the geographic, economic and cultural grouping of the three countries.

In 1951, West Germany, France, and Italy joined these countries to form the European Coal and Steel Community, a predecessor of the European Economic Community (EEC) and today's European Union (EU).

West Germany Federal Republic of Germany in the years 1949–1990

West Germany was the informal name for the Federal Republic of Germany from 1949 to 1990, a period referred to by historians as the Bonn Republic, an era when the western portion of Germany was part of the Western bloc during the Cold War. It was created during the Allied occupation of Germany in 1949 after World War II, established from eleven states formed in the three Allied zones of occupation held by the United States, the United Kingdom and France. Its capital was the city of Bonn.

France Republic with mainland in Europe and numerous oversea territories

France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.

Italy republic in Southern Europe

Italy, officially the Italian Republic, is a European country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Italian Alps and surrounded by several islands. Located in the middle of the Mediterranean sea and traversed along its length by the Apennines, Italy has a largely temperate seasonal climate. The country covers an area of 301,340 km2 (116,350 sq mi) and shares open land borders with France, Slovenia, Austria, Switzerland and the enclaved microstates of Vatican City and San Marino. Italy has a territorial exclave in Switzerland (Campione) and a maritime exclave in the Tunisian Sea (Lampedusa). With around 60 million inhabitants, Italy is the fourth-most populous member state of the European Union.

The main institutions of the Union are the Committee of Ministers, the Council of the Union, the General Secretariat, the Interparliamentary Consultative Council and the Benelux Court of Justice while the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property cover the same territory but are not part of the Benelux Union.

The Benelux Office for Intellectual Property (BOIP) is the registration office for trademarks and designs in the Benelux. The BOIP is the legal successor of the Benelux Trademarks Office and the Benelux Designs Office. The BOIP is based at The Hague, Netherlands.

The Benelux General Secretariat is located in Brussels. It is the central administrative pillar of the Benelux Union. It handles the secretariat of the Committee of Ministers, the Council of Economic Union and the various committees and working parties.

Brussels Capital region of Belgium

Brussels, officially the Brussels-Capital Region, is a region of Belgium comprising 19 municipalities, including the City of Brussels, which is the capital of Belgium. The Brussels-Capital Region is located in the central portion of the country and is a part of both the French Community of Belgium and the Flemish Community, but is separate from the Flemish Region and the Walloon Region. Brussels is the most densely populated and the richest region in Belgium in terms of GDP per capita. It covers 161 km2 (62 sq mi), a relatively small area compared to the two other regions, and has a population of 1.2 million. The metropolitan area of Brussels counts over 2.1 million people, which makes it the largest in Belgium. It is also part of a large conurbation extending towards Ghent, Antwerp, Leuven and Walloon Brabant, home to over 5 million people.


Belgian Prime Minister Gaston Eyskens, Dutch Prime Minister Piet de Jong, and Luxembourg Prime Minister Pierre Werner during a Benelux conference in The Hague, Netherlands, on 28 April 1968. Benelux conferentie te Den Haag. De premiers van de drie landen vlnr. P. Werner, Bestanddeelnr 121-0413.jpg
Belgian Prime Minister Gaston Eyskens, Dutch Prime Minister Piet de Jong, and Luxembourg Prime Minister Pierre Werner during a Benelux conference in The Hague, Netherlands, on 28 April 1968.
Dutch Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers, Luxembourg Prime Minister Pierre Werner, and Belgian Prime Minister Wilfried Martens at the Ministry of General Affairs, on 10 November 1982. V.l.n.r. premiers Lubbers, Pierre Werner (Luxemburg) en Wilfried Martens (Belgie, Bestanddeelnr 932-3952.jpg
Dutch Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers, Luxembourg Prime Minister Pierre Werner, and Belgian Prime Minister Wilfried Martens at the Ministry of General Affairs, on 10 November 1982.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, and Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme in The Hague, Netherlands, on 24 May 2011. Terras van het Catshuis.jpg
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, and Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme in The Hague, Netherlands, on 24 May 2011.

A Benelux Parliament (originally referred to as an "Interparliamentary Consultative Council") was created in 1955. This parliamentary assembly is composed of 21 members of the Dutch parliament, 21 members of the Belgian national and regional parliaments, and 7 members of the Luxembourg parliament.

Benelux Parliament

The Benelux Interparliamentary Consultative Council is one of the institutions of the Benelux economic union. The Parliament was established by an agreement signed by Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg on 5 November 1955, which means it had already existed for three years when the Benelux Union was signed on 3 February 1958. The Benelux Parliament provides the governments with advice on economic and cross-frontier cooperation. Its recommendations may also concern other matters if common interests or current events so dictate. The parliament also keeps the three governments informed about the opinions that move in the parliamentary assemblies from which its members originate.

An international parliament or supranational legislature is a branch of an intergovernmental organization tasked with legislative powers and thus establishing a hybrid system of not only intergovernmentalism, but also supranationalism. It could be based on a predecessor inter-parliamentary institution or a newly established organization-level legislature.

In 1944, exiled representatives of the three countries signed the London Customs Convention, the treaty that established the Benelux Customs Union. Ratified in 1947, the treaty was in force from 1948 until it was superseded by the Benelux Economic Union. The treaty establishing the Benelux Economic Union (Benelux Economische Unie/Union Économique Benelux) was signed on 3 February 1958 in The Hague and came into force on 1 November 1960 to promote the free movement of workers, capital, services, and goods in the region. Under the Treaty the Union implies the co-operation of economic, financial and social policies.

Cooperation with other Geopolitic-regions

In 2017 the members of the Benelux, the Baltic Assembly, and three members of the Nordic Council (Sweden, Denmark and Finland), all EU-member states, sought intensifying cooperation in the Digital Single Market, as well as discussing social matters, the Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union, the European migrant crisis and defence cooperation. Relations with Russia, Turkey and the United Kingdom was also on the agenda. [9]


Meeting of Benelux delegates in The Hague, 1949 Benelux Conferentie 1e Kamer Den Haag. Opening rede Dr. W. Drees, Bestanddeelnr 903-2602.jpg
Meeting of Benelux delegates in The Hague, 1949

The Benelux Union involves an intergovernmental co-operation. [10]

The unification of the law of the three Benelux countries is mainly achieved by regulations of its Committee of Ministers, that only bind the three states, but are not directly applicable in their internal legal orders.[ clarification needed ] They only become legally valid after having been incorporated into national law, with the exception of Belgium. The Belgian Court of Cassation decided in 1971 that any self-executing treaties have priority over laws by the Belgian parliament. [11]

The Treaty establishing the Benelux Union has provided the Committee of Ministers with the following legal instruments: decisions, conventions, recommendations and directives.

The Committee of Ministers can promulgate decisions in the fields for which it has competence - those fields are explicitly set down in the Union Treaty or the additional conventions. When the Committee of Ministers adopts a decision, it immediately becomes binding on the three governments. For a decision to be also applicable to the citizen, it must be transposed into national law.

The Union Treaty is not exhaustive. For this reason, Article 19 of the Treaty provides that the Committee of Ministers may conclude additional conventions. These therefore constitute extensions of the Union Treaty. They are submitted to the national parliaments for approval in keeping with the ratification procedure applied in each of the Member States. Thus there are a large number of Benelux conventions in a wide range of subject matters. [12]

In 1965, the treaty establishing a Benelux Court of Justice was signed. It entered into force in 1974. [13] The Court, composed of judges from the highest courts of the three States, has to guarantee the uniform interpretation of common legal rules. This international judicial institution is located in Brussels.

The Benelux is particularly active in the field of intellectual property. The three countries established a Benelux Trademarks Office and a Benelux Designs Office, both situated in The Hague. In 2005, they concluded a treaty establishing a Benelux Organisation for Intellectual Property which replaced both offices upon its entry into force on 1 September 2006. This Organisation is the official body for the registration of trademarks and designs in the Benelux. In addition, it offers the possibility to formally record the existence of ideas, concepts, designs, prototypes and the like. [14]


Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg form the Benelux. Benelux.png
Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg form the Benelux.


Kingdom of Belgium [15] Kingdom of the Netherlands [16] Grand Duchy of Luxembourg [17]
Flag Flag of Belgium.svg Flag of the Netherlands.svg Flag of Luxembourg.svg
Coat of arms Royal Arms of Belgium.svg Royal Arms of the Netherlands.svg Arms of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.svg
Official local nameKoninkrijk België [15]
Royaume de Belgique [15]
Königreich Belgien [15]
Koninkrijk der Nederlanden [16] Groussherzogtum Lëtzebuerg [17]
Großherzogtum Luxemburg [17]
Grand-Duché de Luxembourg [17]
Common nameBelgiumNetherlandsLuxembourg
Population [18]
Area 30,528 [15]  km241,543 [16]  km22,586.4 [17]  km2
Population density 363.6/km2407.8/km2194.1/km2
Capital city Brussels [15] Amsterdam [16] Luxembourg City [17]
Largest urban areas Brussels  : 2,120,000
Antwerp  : 1,200,000
Liège  : 749,110
Ghent  : 594,582
Charleroi  : 522,522 [19] [20] [21] [22] [23] [24]
Amsterdam  : 2,431,000
Rotterdam  : 1,181,284
The Hague  : 1,054,793
Utrecht  : 656,342
Haarlem  : 424.601 [25]
Luxembourg City  : 180,000
Esch-sur-Alzette  : 33,939
Differdange  : 24,805
Dudelange  : 20,003
Ettelbruck  : 8,544
Form of government Federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy [15] Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy [16] Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy [17]
Current heads of state and government Philippe (Monarch)
Charles Michel (Prime Minister) [15]
Willem-Alexander (Monarch)
Mark Rutte (Prime Minister) [16]
Henri (Monarch)
Xavier Bettel (Prime Minister) [17]
Official languages Dutch, French, German [15] Dutch [16]
Regional: West Frisian, [26] Papiamento, English [27]
Luxembourgish, French, German [17]
Main religions 58% Roman Catholic
16% Other Christian
5% Islam
2% Other religion [28]
49.2% Non-Religious
24.4% Roman Catholic
15.8% Protestant
4.9% Islam [29]
68% Roman Catholic
3% Protestant
3% Other Christian
2% Islam [30]
GDP (nominal) [31]

[32] [33] [34]

$454.687 billion [31] [32] [33] [34] $738.419 billion [31] [32] [33] [34] $57.423 billion [31] [32] [33] [34]
GDP (nominal) per capita [35] [36] [37] $40,107 [35] [36] [37] $43,603 [35] [36] [37] $101,994 [35] [36] [37]
GDP (PPP) [38]

[39] [40]

$494.121 billion [38] [39] [40] $832.623 billion [38] [39] [40] $55.730 billion [38] [39] [40]
GDP (PPP) per capita $43,585 [41]

[42] [43]

$49,166 [41] [42] [43] $98,987 [41] [42] [43]
Real GDP growth rate [44] [45] 1.30 % [44] [45] 1.80 % [44] [45] 4.40 % [44] [45]
Currency Euro [15] Euro [16]
US dollar [note 1]
Euro [17]
Military personnel 37,500 [46] 46,500 [47] 1,510 [48]
Labour force 5,279,000 [49] 7,884,000 [49] 265,800 [49]

Associated territories

Aruba [50] Curaçao [51] Sint Maarten [52]
Flag Flag of Aruba.svg Flag of Curacao.svg Flag of Sint Maarten.svg
Coat of arms Insigne Arubae.svg Blason an Curacao.svg Insigne Insulae Sancti Martini (Nederlandia).svg
Official local nameAruba [50] Land Curaçao/ Pais Kòrsou [51] Sint Maarten [52]
Population [18]
Area 180 km2 [50] 444 km2 [51] 34 km2 [52]
Population density 575.21/km2344/km21110/km2
Capital city Oranjestad [50] Willemstad [51] Philipsburg [52]
Form of government Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy [50] Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy [51] Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy [52]
Sovereign state Flag of the Netherlands.svg  Kingdom of the Netherlands [50] [51] [52]
Current heads of state and government Willem-Alexander (Monarch) [50]
Evelyn Wever-Croes (Prime Minister) [50]
Willem-Alexander (Monarch) [51]
Eugene Rhuggenaath (Prime Minister) [51]
Willem-Alexander (Monarch) [52]
Leona Marlin-Romeo (Prime Minister) [52]
Official languages Dutch, Papiamento [50] Dutch, Papiamento, English [51] Dutch, English [52]
Main religions 75.3% Roman Catholic [50]
4.9% Protestant [50]
1.7% Jehovah's Witness [50]
1.2% Other Religion [50]
72.8%, Roman Catholic [51]
6.6% Pentecostal [51]
3.2% Protestant [51]
3% Adventist [51]
41.9% Protestant [52]
33.1% Roman Catholic [52]
5.2% Hindu [52]
4.1% Other Christian [52]
GDP (nominal) $2.664 billion [31] [32] [33] [34] $3.159 billion [31] [32] [33] [34] $1.059 billion [31] [32] [33] [34]
GDP (nominal) per capita $25,751 [35] [36] [37] $18,360 [35] [36] [37] $18,360 [35] [36] [37]
GDP (PPP) $2.516 billion [38] [39] [40] $3.128 billion [38] [39] [40] $0.3658 billion [38] [39] [40]
GDP (PPP) per capita $36,015 [41] [42] [43] $15,000 [41] [42] [43] $36,327 [41] [42] [43]
Real GDP growth rate 2.40 % [44] [45] 3.60 % [44] [45] 3.60 % [44] [45]
Currency Aruban florin [50]
US dollar
Netherlands Antillean guilder [50] Netherlands Antillean guilder [52]

Renewal of the agreement

The Benelux Union office in Brussels Benelux Union office Brussels.jpg
The Benelux Union office in Brussels

The Treaty between the Benelux countries establishing the Benelux Economic Union was limited to a period of 50 years. During the following years, and even more so after the creation of the European Union, the Benelux cooperation focused on developing other fields of activity within a constantly changing international context.

At the end of the 50 years, the governments of the three Benelux countries decided to renew the agreement, taking into account the new aspects of the Benelux-cooperation – such as security – and the new federal government structure of Belgium. The original establishing treaty, set to expire in 2010, was replaced by a new legal framework (called the Treaty revising the Treaty establishing the Benelux Economic Union), which was signed on 17 June 2008.

The new treaty has no set time limit and the name of the Benelux Economic Union changed to Benelux Union to reflect the broad scope on the union. [53] The main objectives of the treaty are the continuation and enlargement of the cooperation between the three member states within a larger European context. The renewed treaty explicitly foresees the possibility that the Benelux countries will cooperate with other European member States or with regional cooperation structures. The new Benelux cooperation focuses on three main topics: internal market and economic union, sustainability, justice and internal affairs. The number of structures in the renewed Treaty has been reduced and thus simplified. Five Benelux institutions remain: the Benelux Committee of Ministers, the Benelux Council, the Benelux Parliament, the Benelux Court of Justice, the Benelux Secretariat General. Beside these five institutions, the Benelux Organisation for Intellectual Property is also present in this Treaty.

See also


  1. In the Caribbean parts of the Netherlands, namely Saba, Sint Eustatius and Bonaire.

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