On 17 June 2008, a new Benelux Treaty was signed in The Hague by the prime ministers and foreign secretaries of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, and by the minister-presidents of Flanders, Wallonia, the French Community and the German-speaking Community in Belgium and the minister-president of the Brussels Capital Region.
The new Benelux Treaty entered into force on 1 January 2012.
The first Treaty between the Benelux countries establishing the Benelux Economic Union was signed in 1958 for a period of fifty years. Over the decades that followed — and more so after the establishment of the European Union — the focus of cooperation within the Benelux shifted towards the development of other policy areas in a constantly changing international context.
Towards the end of the fifty-year period, the governments of the three Benelux countries believed it was time for renewal, taking into account the new aspects of Benelux cooperation — such as safety — and the new federal state structure in Belgium.
Content of the treaty
Two main objectives
continue cooperation across the Benelux as a testing ground for Europe
expand cross-border cooperation
The new Benelux partnership focuses on three main themes:
Internal market and economic union
Justice and home affairs
A joint work programme
Detailed plans of action for these three themes were developed in a four-year joint work programme that is fleshed out in the annual work plans of the Benelux Secretariat in Brussels.
Stronger political guidance
This joint work programme approved by the Benelux Committee of Ministers guarantees stronger political guidance from the three countries.
The Treaty expressly provides for the Benelux countries to cooperate with other European member states or regional groupings of those countries.
The expansion of cooperation into more areas than the economic sphere alone results in a change of the official name of the Benelux, from the Benelux Economic Union to the Benelux Union.