The day-to-day management of the Secretariat-General is a team effort. A secretary-general and two deputy secretaries-general make up the College of Secretaries-General.
Mr Frans Weekers (NL) has been secretary-general of the Benelux since 1 January 2023. Together with Mr Jean-Claude Meyer (LU) and Mr Michel-Etienne Tilemans (BE), he forms the College.
This College, appointed for three years, together with a team of some 50 people, leads the Secretariat-General of the Benelux in Brussels. Based on the Benelux Work Programme (2021-2024), its ambition is to jointly realise cross-border projects that have a positive impact on the lives of citizens and entrepreneurs.
Frans Weekers is a former state secretary of finance in the Rutte I and II cabinets.
He has served as deputy secretary-general of the Benelux Union since 2020. Since 2018, he has also acted as a special representative of the Dutch government for the reconstruction of Sint Maarten, and as a member of the steering committee of the SXM Trust Fund (Sint Maarten) at the World Bank.
“I am passionate about finding solutions that literally push boundaries, and that ultimately deliver benefits for the wellbeing of people and the economy across our borders. My focus is on identifying the interests of the Benelux countries, and on exploring the ways in which they can join forces. In doing so, I hope to be able to achieve a lot over the coming years.”
Michel-Etienne Tilemans has served as deputy secretary-general of the Benelux Union since 2022. He has previously acted as Director of Neighbouring Countries at the Belgian Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs, Belgian coordinator for the Benelux and Head of the Belgian delegation to the Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine (CCNR). Before that, he served as the Belgian ambassador to Tunisia and sat on the European Union’s Political and Security Committee (COPS), among other things.
“The declaration of the Benelux summit of 28 November 2022 and that of 16 December 2021 contain the main guidelines shared by the three countries. Two passages stand out in these as having particular significance for the Benelux Union. In the common interest of our citizens and our economies, the Benelux Union will remain a pillar of the European project. The European Union must defend its values both at home and in the changing world. The Benelux countries stand firmly behind these values. We [the prime ministers] reaffirm our determination to use the Benelux as a testing ground for European cooperation and as a model for regional integration in order to remain an inspiration to other regions in Europe and beyond. To this end, we have also taken important steps to modernise the Benelux organisation from within.”
Jean-Claude Meyer has served as Luxembourg’s ambassador to Liechtenstein and Switzerland. Before that, he was the consul general and deputy head of mission at the Luxembourg embassy in Brussels. He has also gained extensive experience representing Luxembourg in various preparatory bodies and as an administrator at the Secretariat of the Council of the European Union (EU).
“One of the first dossiers I had the opportunity to work on at the start of my diplomatic career was the Schengen agreements, which were then hosted by the Benelux countries. I became familiar with the Secretariat-General very early on, not only as an organisation that serves the citizens of our three countries, but also as a pioneer at the European level. As such, it is an honour for me to be able to join the College and — together with my two colleagues — to contribute to the promotion of the objectives set for the Benelux by the Treaty and our three governments in terms of cross-border, regional and European cooperation.”