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The Benelux is an economic union in Western Europe that comprises three neighbouring countries, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. These countries are located in northwestern Europe between France and Germany. The Union's name is formed from the beginning of each country's name; it was possibly created for the Benelux Customs Union, although according to The Economist it was coined somewhat earlier, in August 1946, by that newspaper's correspondent in Belgium. It is now used in a more generic way to refer to the cultural, economic, and geographic grouping.
In 1951, these countries joined West Germany, France, and Italy to form the European Coal and Steel Community, the earliest version of the modern European Union.
The main institutions of the Union are the Committee of Ministers, the Parliament, the Council of the Union, the Court of Justice, the Secretariat-General, the Organization for Intellectual Property.
The Benelux Secretary-General is located in Brussels. It is the central administrative pillar of the Benelux Economic Union. It handles the secretariat of the Committee of Ministers, the Council of Economic Union and the various committees and working parties. Moreover, it ensures the registry of the Benelux Court of Justice.
A Benelux Parliament (originally referred to as Interparliamentary Consultative Council) was created in 1955. This parliamentary assembly is composed of 21 members of the Dutch parliament, 21 members of the Belgian national and regional parliaments, and 7 members of the Luxembourgish parliament.
In 1944, the three countries signed the London Customs Convention, the treaty that established the Benelux Customs Union. Ratified in 1947, the treaty was in force from 1948 until being supplanted by the Benelux Economic Union. The treaty establishing the Benelux Economic Union (Benelux Economische Unie/Union Économique Benelux) was signed on February 3, 1958 and came into force in November 1, 1960 to promote the free movement of workers, capital, services, and goods in the region. Under the Treaty the Union implies the co-operation of economic, financial and social policies.
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