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Benelux Union

Intergovernmental cooperation serving citizens and businesses

The Benelux has served as the inspiration for the European project for over 75 years. Over the course of that period, we have acted as a testing ground for the continuous improvement of our living conditions in the broadest sense. This encompasses community life, as well as work and enterprise and the associated regulatory framework. The positive impact we have on the world we live in and the environment proves that intergovernmental cooperation is more relevant than ever.

Today’s Benelux Union is the result of a long history of cooperation between Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. What started in 1944 as a customs union became the Benelux Economic Union in 1958. Fifty years down the line, the political leaders of the three countries — keenly aware of the importance of continuing and intensifying intergovernmental cooperation — decided to sign a new Benelux Treaty, which remains in force today.

The Benelux Treaty: a new dynamic impetus for cooperation

The signing of the new Benelux Treaty has given a new and decisive impetus to cooperation across the Benelux. Going forward, this cooperation will focus on three main areas:

  • internal market and economic union
  • sustainable development
  • justice and home affairs

The objectives of this cooperation were also confirmed and laid down in more detail:

  1. Continue cooperation across the Benelux as a testing ground for Europe.
  2. Expand cooperation across our borders.

Across our borders: towards more cooperation and experience sharing

The Benelux is not a self-contained area; political, social, economic and environmental issues transcend the borders of the three member states. With that in mind, the Treaty explicitly stipulates that the Benelux countries should cooperate with other EU member states or with their regional cooperation structures.

These partnerships are already bearing fruit. In recent years, the Benelux Union has actively worked with North Rhine-Westphalia and France to achieve joint progress in a wide range of areas, including

  • safety
  • air quality
  • the circular economy
  • energy