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Benelux Union
Location of  Benelux  (green)

in Europe  (green & dark grey)

and largest city
Official languages Dutch, French[1]
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 
 -  Total 76,657 km2
29,597 sq mi
 -  estimate 28.5 million
 -  Density 380/km2
984/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2013 estimate
 -  Total $1.379 trillion[3]
 -  Per capita $48,359
Currency Euro (EUR)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 -  Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Drives on the right
/ (In French)

The Benelux Union (Dutch: Benelux Unie;[4] French: Union Benelux[5]) is a politico-economic union of three neighbouring states in central-western Europe: Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg.[6] 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).[7] It is now used in a more general way to refer to the geographic, economic and cultural grouping of the three countries.

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

The main institutions of the Union are the Committee of Ministers, the Benelux Court of Justice cover the same territory but are not part of the Union.

The Benelux Secretary-General 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. Moreover, it ensures the registry of the Benelux Court of Justice.


  • Politics 1
  • Law 2
  • Demographics and geography 3
  • Sports 4
  • Renewal of the agreement 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


Benelux Prime Ministers Mark Rutte (Netherlands), Jean-Claude Juncker (Luxembourg) and Yves Leterme (Belgium) in The Hague 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 Luxembourgian parliament.

In 1944, 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 being supplanted 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.


The Benelux Union involves an intergovernmental cooperation. Decisions are taken unanimously.

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. They only become legally valid after having been incorporated into national law.

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 is a large number of Benelux conventions in a wide range of subject matters.[8]

Approval of a recommendation by the Committee of Ministers is not legally binding, but rather a moral stance by the three governments. Recommendations are not devoid of any binding effect in that their approval implies an undertaking in view of their execution.

The Committee of Ministers can issue directives to the Council of Economic Union, the Committees, the General Secretariat and the joint services.

In 1965, the treaty establishing a Benelux Court of Justice was signed. It entered into force in 1975. 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

  • Benelux official site (In French)
  • Benelux Parliament
  • Benelux Court of Justice
  • Benelux Office for Intellectual Property
Official sites

External links

  1. ^
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ [1] International Monetary Fund Statistics
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Encyclopediae Britannica about the Benelux Treaty of Economic Union
  7. ^ Revue de l'Institut International de Statistique (1947) Vol. 15, No. 1/4, page 43. However, according to The Economist, it was coined in August 1946 by that newspaper's correspondent in Belgium ( ).
  8. ^
  9. ^ [2] Archived June 4, 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^
  11. ^ Benelux union Archived June 1, 2015 at the Wayback Machine


See also

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.[11] 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 Organization for Intellectual Property is also present in this Treaty.

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 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.

Renewal of the agreement

In 2000, Belgium and the Netherlands jointly hosted the UEFA European Championship. In June 2007, representatives of the three countries announced they would bid, as a single political entity, for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.[10]


Country Capital Population
2013 estimate
Area Population density
Benelux 28,536,867 74,657 square kilometres (28,825 sq mi) 379.9/km² (984.1/sq mi)
 Belgium Brussels 11,176,020 30,528 square kilometres (11,787 sq mi) 360.6/km² (933.8/sq mi)
 Luxembourg Luxembourg 540,840 2,586 square kilometres (998 sq mi) 197.9/km² (512.6/sq mi)
 Netherlands Amsterdam 16,847,007 41,543 square kilometres (16,040 sq mi) 405.5/km² (1050.3/sq mi)

The Benelux region has a total population of about 28,365,937 and occupies an area of approximately 74,640 square kilometres (28,820 sq mi). Thus, the Benelux has a population density of 380/km² (983/sq mi).

Overview map of the Benelux area. Netherlands lies to the north, Luxembourg to the southeast and Belgium in between.
Detailed map of the Benelux, including all municipalities.

Demographics and geography


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