The Benelux Union (Dutch: Benelux Unie;[4] French: Union Benelux)[5] is a politico-economic union of three neighbouring states in 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 more generally 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 Parliament, the Council of the Union and the Secretariat-General, while the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property and the Benelux Court of Justice cover the same territory but are not part of the Union.

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.


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 Luxembourg parliament.

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 Ratified in 1947, the treaty was in force from 1948 until it was superseded by the Benelux Economic Union.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

Recently, 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 defense cooperation. Relations with Russia, Turkey and the United Kingdom was also on the agenda.[8]


Meeting of Benelux delegates in The Hague, 1949

The Benelux Union involves an intergovernmental co-operation.[9]

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.[10]

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.[11]

In 1965, the treaty establishing a Benelux Court of Justice was signed. It entered into force in 1974.[12] 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.[13]



Kingdom of Belgium[14] Kingdom of the Netherlands[15] Grand Duchy of Luxembourg[16]
Flag Belgium Netherlands Luxembourg
Coat of arms Royal Arms of Belgium.svg Royal Arms of the Netherlands.svg Arms of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.svg
Official local name Koninkrijk België[14]
Royaume de Belgique[14]
Königreich Belgien[14]
Koninkrijk der Nederlanden[15] Groussherzogtum Lëtzebuerg[16]
Großherzogtum Luxemburg[16]
Grand-Duché de Luxembourg[16]
Common name Belgium Netherlands Luxembourg
11,358,379 17,203,616 575,747
Area 30,528[14] km2 41,543[15] km2 2,586.4[16] km2
Population density 363.6/km2 407.8/km2 194.1/km2
Capital city Brussels[14] Amsterdam[15] Luxembourg City[16]
Largest urban areas Brussels : 1,830,000
Antwerp : 1,200,000
Liège : 749,110
Ghent : 594,582
Charleroi : 522,522[18][19][20][21][22][23]
Amsterdam : 2,431,000
Rotterdam : 1,181,284
The Hague : 1,054,793
Utrecht : 656,342
Eindhoven : 419,045[24]
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[14] Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy[15] Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy[16]
Current heads of state and government Philippe (Monarch)
Charles Michel (Prime Minister)[14]
Willem-Alexander (Monarch)
Mark Rutte (Prime Minister)[15]
Henri (Monarch)
Xavier Bettel (Prime Minister)[16]
Main languages Dutch, French, German[14] Dutch, English[15] Luxembourgish, French, German[16]
Main religions 58% Roman Catholic
16% Other Christian
5% Islam
2% Other religion[25]
49.2% Non-Religious
24.4% Roman Catholic
15.8% Protestant
4.9% Islam[26]
68% Roman Catholic
3% Protestant
3% Other Christian
2% Islam[27]
GDP (nominal)[28]

[29] [30] [31]

$454.687 billion[28][29][30][31] $738.419 billion[28][29][30][31] $57.423 billion[28][29][30][31]
GDP (nominal) per capita[32][33][34] $40,107[32][33][34] $43,603[32][33][34] $101,994[32][33][34]
GDP (PPP)[35]

[36] [37]

$494.121 billion[35][36][37] $832.623 billion[35][36][37] $55.730 billion[35][36][37]
GDP (PPP) per capita $43,585[38]


$49,166[38][39][40] $98,987[38][39][40]
Real GDP growth rate[41][42] 1.30 %[41][42] 1.80 %[41][42] 4.40 %[41][42]
Currency Euro[14] Euro[15]
US dollar[note 1]
Military personnel 37,500[43] 46,500[44] 1,510[45]
Labour force 5,279,000[46] 7,884,000[46] 265,800[46]

Associated territories

Aruba[47] Curaçao[48] Sint Maarten[49]
Flag Aruba Curaçao Sint Maarten
Coat of arms Insigne Arubae.svg Blason an Curaçao.svg Insigne Insulae Sancti Martini (Nederlandia).svg
Official local name Aruba[47] Land Curaçao/ Pais Kòrsou[48] Sint Maarten[49]
104,822 159,371 39,537
Area 180 km2[47] 444 km2[48] 34 km2[49]
Population density 575.21/km2 344/km2 1110/km2
Capital city Oranjestad[47] Willemstad[48] Philipsburg[49]
Form of government Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy[47] Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy[48] Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy[49]
Sovereign state  Kingdom of the Netherlands[47][48][49]
Current heads of state and government Willem-Alexander (Monarch)[47]
Evelyn Wever-Croes (Prime Minister)[47]
Willem-Alexander (Monarch)[48]
Eugene Rhuggenaath (Prime Minister)[48]
Willem-Alexander (Monarch)[49]
Leona Marlin-Romeo (Prime Minister)[49]
Main languages Dutch, Papiamento[47] Dutch, Papiamento, English[48] Dutch, English[49]
Main religions 75.3% Roman Catholic[47]
4.9% Protestant [47]
1.7% Jehovah's Witness[47]
1.2% Other Religion[47]
72.8%, Roman Catholic[48]
6.6% Pentecostal[48]
3.2% Protestant[48]
3% Adventist[48]
41.9% Protestant[49]
33.1% Roman Catholic[49]
5.2% Hindu[49]
4.1% Other Christian[49]
GDP (nominal) $2.664 billion[28][29][30][31] $3.159 billion[28][29][30][31] $1.059 billion[28][29][30][31]
GDP (nominal) per capita $25,751[32][33][34] $18,360[32][33][34] $18,360[32][33][34]
GDP (PPP) $2.516 billion[35][36][37] $3.128 billion[35][36][37] $0.3658 billion[35][36][37]
GDP (PPP) per capita $36,015[38][39][40] $15,000[38][39][40] $36,327[38][39][40]
Real GDP growth rate 2.40 %[41][42] 3.60 %[41][42] 3.60 %[41][42]
Currency Aruban florin[47]
US dollar
Netherlands Antillean guilder[47] Netherlands Antillean guilder[49]


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.[50]

Renewal of the agreement

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.[51] 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.


  1. ^ "Révision portant sur le traité de 1958" (PDF) (in French). 2008. Article 38 : le français et le néerlandais sont les langues officielles des institutions de l'Union Benelux 
  2. ^ a b Peaslee, Amos Jenkins; Xydis, Dorothy Peaslee (1974). International governmental organizations. BRILL. p. 165. ISBN 978-90-247-1601-2. Retrieved 4 September 2011. 
  3. ^ [1] International Monetary Fund Statistics
  4. ^ "Over de Benelux" (in Dutch). Benelux. Retrieved 2015-02-09. Dit alles onder een nieuwe naam: de Benelux Unie. 
  5. ^ "A propos du Benelux" (in French). Benelux. Retrieved 2015-02-09. Le 17 juin 2008, un nouveau Traité Benelux était signé. Désormais, la coopération va se concentrer sur trois thèmes-clés: le marché intérieur & l’union économique, le développement durable et la justice & les affaires intérieures et tout ceci sous un nouveau nom:l’Union Benelux. 
  6. ^ "Benelux Treaty of Economic Union - Belgium-Luxembourg-Netherlands [1958]". 
  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 ("Going Dutch". The Economist. 3 May 2008. Retrieved 6 September 2012. ).
  8. ^ https://news.err.ee/603573/ratas-meets-with-benelux-nordic-baltic-leaders-in-the-hague
  9. ^ https://www.urm.lt/default/en/foreign-policy/lithuania-in-the-region-and-the-world/regional-cooperation/intergovernmental-cooperation-of-the-baltic-and-the-benelux-countries
  10. ^ "Cass. 27 mei 1971, Franco-Suisse Le Ski". Pasicrisie. I: 886. 1971. 
  11. ^ "Benelux in a nutshell". General Secretariat of the Benelux. Archived from the original on 18 January 2008. Retrieved 3 February 2008. 
  12. ^ "Algemene voorstelling van het Benelux-Gerechtshof". Benelux-Gerechtshof. Retrieved 2016-05-10. 
  13. ^ [2] Archived 4 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Europe :: Belgium". CIA The World Factbook. Archived from the original on 10 July 2016. 
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h "Europe :: Netherlands". CIA The World Factbook. 
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Europe :: Luxembourg". CIA The World Factbook. [permanent dead link]
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  18. ^ De Belgische Stadsgewesten 2001 Archived 29 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine., Sarah Luyten, Etienne Van Hecke, Instituut voor Sociale en Economische Geografie, K. U.Leuven
  19. ^ "Urbanaudit.org". Archived from the original on 2006-01-09. 
  20. ^ "Urbanaudit.org". Archived from the original on 2006-01-09. 
  21. ^ "Urbanaudit.org". Archived from the original on 2006-01-09. 
  22. ^ "Urbanaudit.org". Archived from the original on 2006-01-09. 
  23. ^ "Urbanaudit.org". Archived from the original on 2006-01-09. 
  24. ^ Statistics Netherlands.
  25. ^ Eurobarometer 393: Discrimination in the EU in 2012 (pdf). European Commission. pp. 233–234. Retrieved 29 December 2015. 
  26. ^ Schmeets, Hans; Mensvoort, Carly van (2015). Religieuze betrokkenheid van bevolkingsgroepen, 2010–2014, Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek
  27. ^ "Discrimination in the EU in 2012 – Special Eurobarometer 393 (The question asked was "Do you consider yourself to be...?")" (PDF). European Commission. Retrieved 2 February 2016. 
  28. ^ a b c d e f g "World Economic Outlook Database". International Monetary Fund. April 2016. 
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  30. ^ a b c d e f g "GDP and its breakdown at current prices in US Dollars". United Nations Statistics Division. December 2015. 
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  36. ^ a b c d e f g Data (July 2, 2015). ""Gross domestic product 2014, PPP", World Bank, accessed on 2 July 2015" (PDF). Data.worldbank.org. Retrieved July 2, 2015. ; European Union calculated by sum of individual countries.
  37. ^ a b c d e f g "The World Factbook — Central Intelligence Agency". 
  38. ^ a b c d e f World Economic Outlook Database, April 2016, International Monetary Fund. Database updated on 12 April 2016. Accessed on 14 April 2016.
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  42. ^ a b c d e f g http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2016/01/pdf/text.pdf
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  44. ^ IISS 2014, pp. 121-123
  45. ^ IISS 2014, p. 117
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  50. ^ "Benelux countries launch 2018 World Cup bid". ESPN. 27 June 2007. Retrieved 29 October 2007. 
  51. ^ Benelux union Archived 1 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine.

External links

Official sites