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the shortened name for the customs and economic union of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg, which is also assuming the character of a military and political alliance. The formation of Benelux began with a currency agreement among the three countries (Oct. 21, 1943) and a customs convention (Sept. 5, 1944, which became effective in January 1948). On Feb. 3, 1958, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg concluded a treaty at The Hague establishing an economic union, which came into being on Nov. 1,1960, after it had been ratified by the parliaments of the three countries. The treaty provides for the creation of a single market for its members; the free movement of persons, goods, capital, and services among the three countries; coordination of economic, financial, and social policies; and action by the three member nations as a unit in the field of foreign economic relations. The treaty was concluded for a period of 50 years and may be extended for ten-year periods. The Benelux countries hold consultations on the most important international and military questions: the production of new types of military weapons and equipment, the training of armed forces personnel, participation in joint maneuvers, and so forth.
The Benelux countries were among the organizers of the Western bloc and are members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Western European Union, and the European Economic Community.
The supreme organ of Benelux is the Council of Ministers, whose decisions are made unanimously and are obligatory for all three members. The Council of Economic Union, consisting of representatives of the ministries and departments of the three countries, directs the work of the departments and specialized commissions and supervises the execution of the decisions of the Council of Ministers. The Arbitration Commission settles disputed questions. There is also an Economic and Social Consultative Council, which is made up of equal numbers of representatives of employers’ associations, a number of trade unions, and other organizations of the three countries. Administrative and organizational functions are carried out by the General Secretariat. The seat of the governing organs of Benelux is in Brussels.