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New Benelux treaty moves beyond economic union model

Pioneering common voice in Europe

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

THE HAGUE — Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, also known as the Benelux, plan to sign a new reciprocal treaty in The Hague, called the Benelux Treaty. Its forerunner has benefited its partners significantly, and the new one will modernize and strengthen the partnership, according to Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Verhagen following a meeting with his Belgian and Luxembourg counterparts in Brussels.

Since the level of cooperation is expanding beyond an economic union, the official title of the partnership will become the Benelux Union

With the new treaty, the Benelux countries want to continue being pioneers in the European Union, in economic affairs, sustainable development, justice and home affairs. In these areas there will be a multi-year program to continuously adapt to current events, according to Verhagen

Benelux, the entity, has been in existence since 1958, and remains politically important. Verhagen says there is an incentive to speak as one voice in an enlarged European Union of 27 countries. As Benelux Union, the countries will also dovetail their positions for the longer term and so exercise more influence on EU decision-making

The new Benelux treaty is to replace the present treaty in 2010 and will be signed by the leaders of the three countries in The Hague, in the Ridderzaal (Hall of Knights)

The borders of the Benelux Union mirror those drawn by the treaty of 1815, when the newly created Kingdom of the Netherlands basically covered the same territory as the seventeen provinces did in the 1550s.