In this note drawn up for the Belgian Commission for the Study of Post-war Problems (CEPAG), Fernand Van Langenhove, Secretary-General of the Belgian Foreign Ministry, analyses the conditions required for the conclusion and the operation of a Netherlands–Belgium Customs Union.
On 21 October 1943, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands sign a monetary convention in London which sets the exchange rate between the Belgian and Luxembourg franc and the Dutch guilder and establishes a mutual funding mechanism in the event of a balance of payments deficit of one of the signatories.
On 2 November 1943, the Belgian Foreign Ministry distributes this circular which refers to the address given by Camille Gutt, Belgian Finance Minister, at the signing of the Monetary Convention between Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands on 21 October 1943, in London.
On 9 September 1944, Paul-Henri Spaak, Belgian Foreign Minister, officially informs Belgian diplomats of the conclusion of a transitional agreement on a customs union between the Governments of Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
In a report presented to the Franco–Belgian section of the Inter-Parliamentary Union on 1 November 1947, the Belgian MP, Raymond Scheyven, calls for a customs and economic union between France and Benelux.
On 16 October 1949, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands sign the Benelux Pre-Union Treaty in Luxembourg. The Luxembourg delegation during the talks on the Benelux Pre-Union Treaty. From left to right: Aloyse Hentgen, Minister for Agriculture and Economic Affairs, Pierre Dupong, Minister of State and President of the Luxembourg Government, and Eugène Auguste Collart, Luxembourg Special Envoy to the Netherlands.
‘Pre-union. Do you love me? No!’ On 30 October 1949, the Brussels newspaper Le Phare Dimanche portrays the tensions within the Benelux Customs Union which are dividing Belgium and the Netherlands and are based on the pre-union agreement signed two weeks earlier in order to prepare for the Benelux Economic Union.
In his memoirs, Joseph Luns, Dutch Foreign Minister from 1956 to 1971, recalls the early days of economic cooperation between the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, which eventually led to the creation of Benelux.
From 11 to 20 December 1949, on the invitation of the three Benelux countries, Italian journalists set out on a voyage of discovery through Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands. On 12 December, Pierre Frieden, Luxembourg Education Minister, presents the main elements of the Benelux idea to his guests.
On 7 February 1951, the Netherlands journal Internationale Spectator publishes an article by Johannes Linthorst Homan, member of the European Movement, in which he analyses the situation of agriculture in the Benelux countries and speculates on possible European cooperation in agriculture.
On 14 October 1952, representatives of the Governments of Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, meeting in Knokke, adopt a joint declaration on the development of the pre-union and the achievement of economic union between the three countries.
On 4 September 1954, Paul-Henri Spaak, Belgian Foreign Minister, gives an account of the first 10 years of the customs union between Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. He stresses that this is merely one intermediary step on the road towards a united Europe.
On 3 February 1958, the Treaty instituting the Benelux Economic Union is signed in The Hague. There, Joseph Bech, Luxembourg Foreign Minister, pays tribute to those who took the initiative for this union before the end of the war.
In this interview, Leo Tindemans, former attaché in the Economic Affairs Service of the Belgian Ministry of Agriculture, outlines the implications of the discussions on postwar agricultural issues between the three Benelux countries.
In this interview, Charles Rutten, former official in the Netherlands Foreign Ministry, recalls the establishment and the objectives of the Benelux Political Consultation Committee (Cocopo) in the early 1950s.
In this interview, Edmund Wellenstein, official in the Private Office of the Queen of the Netherlands from 1947 to 1950 then Head of the ‘Germany’ Division and Director-General for European Affairs in the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs between 1950 and 1952, describes the importance of the cooperation between the Benelux countries for the Netherlands after the Second World War, explaining how it served as a model for the beginnings of the European integration process.
In 1948, in the journal Études économiques, A. van Kleffens, Director of Foreign Economic Affairs at the Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs, sets out his country’s point of view on the Benelux customs union.
On 1 January 1948, the customs convention concluded between Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg - known collectively as Benelux - entered into force. The Luxembourg newspaper Tageblatt comments on the event.
On 18 June 1948, the Belgian daily newspaper La Dernière Heure considers the difficulties of establishing customs and economic union between Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands (Benelux) and mentions in particular the deep divergences in terms of economic policy.
On 27 April 1949, the Dutch daily newspaper Het Parool reports on the grievances of trade unions in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg concerning the long-term programme of Benelux, deemed to be too liberal and unrealistic.
On 29 May 1949, while attacking the perverse economic effects of Benelux, the Brussels newspaper Le Phare Dimanche cautions its readers against Dutch industrial competition and questions the appropriateness of applying the the Benelux agreement in full.
On 26 June 1949, while describing the implementation of the Benelux Customs Union, the Brussels newspaper Le Phare Dimanche examines the stumbling blocks present in the trade talks between Belgium and the Netherlands.
On 17 October 1949, the day after the ministerial meeting held in Luxembourg between the Benelux member countries, the Dutch daily newspaper Het Parool gives details of the progress made in the negotiations on the establishment of an economic union.
On 3 January 1951, the Belgian Communist daily newspaper Le Drapeau Rouge criticises the weaknesses of the Benelux experiment and highlights existing disagreements between the Netherlands and the Belgium–Luxembourg duo.