| Union of Benelux (en)|
|Motto: "Unified through brotherhood"|
|Official Anthem: Our New Homeland|
| Brussels |
|National languages||Dutch, French, German, and Luxembourgish|
- Prime Minister
- D. Prime Minister
|Unitary Parliamentary Democracy and Constitutional Monarchy|
King Reinhardt I of Benelux
Jan van Laarhoven
| Legislature |
| Parliament of Benelux |
Royal Council of Benelux
|Formation||19 April 2011 (Treaty of Vianden)|
|Currency||Allied States Dollar (ASD)|
|Drives on the||Right|
The Union of Benelux (called Benelux; Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg) is a small kingdom in northeast Europe and parts of the Caribbean. Benelux has an estimated population of 28,600,000 and covers an area of 74,640 square kilometres (28,820 sq mi). The county consists of 29 provinces, including Aruba, Curaçao, and Saint Maarten (formerly "Sint" Maarten). Benelux moreover consists of the former countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, and the Kingdom of Belgium, which all merged into one county after the Treaty of Vianden, in April 2011. "Benelux" use to the the name of the economic union between the three countries. The current King of Benlux is undecided, although the government has announced that this time around, a family will be elected to be the country's "Royal Family," because of current conflicts between all three former monarchs. The monarchs of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg's heirs will make up the Royal Council, the privy council to the new King.
The Netherlands Edit
The Kingdom of the Netherlands finds its origin in the aftermath of Napoleon's defeat in 1813. In that year the Netherlands regained its freedom and the Sovereign Principality of the Netherlands was proclaimed with William Prince of Orange and Nassau as sovereign. Reunification with the Southern Netherlands was decided in 1814. In March 1815 the Sovereign Prince adopted the style of a King of the Netherlands and the Kingdom had come into being. The King of the Netherlands was also Grand Duke of Luxembourg, a province of the Kingdom that was at the same time a Grand Duchy of the German Confederation.
In 1830, Belgium seceded from the Kingdom, a step that was only recognized by the Netherlands in 1839. At that point Luxembourg became a fully independent country in a personal union with the Netherlands. Luxembourg also lost more than half of its territory to Belgium. To compensate the German Confederation for that loss, the remainder of the Dutch province of Limburg received the same status that Luxembourg had enjoyed before, as a Dutch Province that at the same time formed a Duchy of the German Confederation. That status was reversed when the German Confederation ceased to be in 1867 and at that point Limburg reverted to its former status as an ordinary Dutch province.
The origin of the administrative reform of 1954 was the 1931 Westminster Statute and the 1941 Atlantic Charter (stating the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live, and the desire for a permanent system of general security), which was signed by the Netherlands on January 1, 1942. Changes were proposed in the December 7, 1942 radio speech by Queen Wilhelmina. In this speech the Queen, on behalf of the Dutch government in exile in London, expressed a desire to review the relations between the Netherlands and its colonies after the end of the war. After the liberation, the government would be calling a conference to agree on a settlement in which the overseas territories could participate in the administration of the Kingdom on the basis of equality. Initially, this speech had propaganda purposes; the Dutch government had the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) in mind, and was hoping to appease public opinion in the United States, which had become skeptical towards colonialism.
After Indonesia became independent, a federal construction was considered too heavy as the economies of Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles were insignificant compared to those of the Netherlands. In the Charter, as it came about in 1954, Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles each got a Minister Plenipotentiary based in the Netherlands, who had the right to participate in Dutch cabinet meetings when it discussed affairs that applied to the Kingdom as a whole, when these affairs pertained directly to Suriname and/or the Netherlands Antilles. Delegates of Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles could participate in sessions of the First and Second Chamber of the States-General. An overseas member could be added to the Council of State when appropriate. According to the Charter, Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles were also allowed to alter their Basic Laws (Staatsregeling). The right of the two autonomous countries to leave the Kingdom unilaterally was not recognized; yet it was stipulated the Charter could be dissolved by mutual consultation.
Before the Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands was proclaimed in 1954, Suriname, Netherlands New Guinea, and the "Netherlands Antilles", formerly "Colony of Curaçao and subordinates" (Kolonie Curaçao en Onderhorige Eilanden) were colonies of the Netherlands. Suriname was a constituent country within the Kingdom from 1954 to 1975, while the Netherlands Antilles were a constituent country from 1954 until 2010. Suriname has since become an independent republic, and the Netherlands Antilles were dissolved into the constituent countries Aruba (since 1986), Curaçao and Sint Maarten (now Saint Maarten), and the special municipalities of the Netherlands proper, Bonaire, Saba, and Saint Eustatius. Netherlands New Guinea was a dependent territory of the Kingdom until 1962, but was not an autonomous country, and was not mentioned in the Charter.
In 1955, Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard visited Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles. The visit was a great success. The royal couple was enthusiastically welcomed by the local population and the trip was widely reported in the Dutch press. Several other royal visits were to follow. In 1969, an unorganized strike on the Antillean island of Curaçao resulted in serious disturbances and looting, during which a part of the historic city center of Willemstad was destroyed by fire. Order was restored by Dutch marines. The same year in Suriname saw serious political instability with the Surinamese prime minister, Jopie Pengel, threatening to request military support to break a teacher strike.
In 1973, a new Dutch cabinet under Labour leader Joop den Uyl assumed power. In the government policy statement the cabinet declared a wish to determine a date for the independence of Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles with the government of those nations. The Antillean government was non-committal; the same held for the Surinamese Sedney cabinet (1969–1973). The Suriname 1973 elections brought the National Party Combination (Nationale Partij Kombinatie) to power, with Henck Arron as its prime minister. The new government declared on its instatement that Suriname would be independent before 1976. This was remarkable, as independence had not been an issue during the election campaign. The Den Uyl-government in The Hague now had a willing partner in Paramaribo to realise its plans for Surinamese independence. Despite vehement and emotional resistance by the Surinamese opposition, Den Uyl and Arron reached an agreement, and on 25 November 1975, Suriname became independent.
The name 'Belgium' is derived from Gallia Belgica, a Roman province in the northernmost part of Gaul that, before Roman invasion in 100 BC, was inhabited by the Belgae, a mix of Celtic and Germanic peoples. A gradual immigration by Germanic Frankish tribes during the 5th century brought the area under the rule of the Merovingian kings. A gradual shift of power during the 8th century led the kingdom of the Franks to evolve into the Carolingian Empire. The Treaty of Verdun in 843 divided the region into Middle and Western Francia and therefore into a set of more or less independent fiefdoms which, during the Middle Ages, were vassals either of the King of France or of the Holy Roman Emperor.
Many of these fiefdoms were united in the Burgundian Netherlands of the 14th and 15th centuries. Emperor Charles V extended the personal union of the Seventeen Provinces in the 1540s, making it far more than a personal union by the Pragmatic Sanction of 1549 and increased his influence over the Prince-Bishopric of Liège. The Eighty Years' War (1568–1648) divided the Low Countries into the northern United Provinces (Belgica Foederata in Latin, the "Federated Netherlands") and the Southern Netherlands (Belgica Regia, the "Royal Netherlands"). The latter were ruled successively by the Spanish and the Austrian Habsburgs and comprised most of modern Belgium. This was the theater of most Franco-Spanish and Franco-Austrian wars during the 17th and 18th centuries. Following the campaigns of 1794 in the French Revolutionary Wars, the Low Countries—including territories that were never nominally under Habsburg rule, such as the Prince-Bishopric of Liège—were annexed by the French First Republic, ending Austrian rule in the region. The reunification of the Low Countries as the United Kingdom of the Netherlands occurred at the dissolution of the First French Empire in 1815.
The 1830 Belgian Revolution led to the establishment of a Catholic and bourgeois, officially French-speaking and neutral, independent Belgium under a provisional government and a national congress. Since the installation of Leopold I as king in 1831, Belgium has been a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy, with a laicist constitution based on the Napoleonic code. Although the franchise was initially restricted, universal suffrage for men was introduced after the general strike of 1893 (with plural voting until 1919) and for women in 1949.
The main political parties of the 19th century were the Catholic Party and the Liberal Party, with the Belgian Labour Party emerging towards the end of the century. French was originally the single official language adopted by the nobility and the bourgeoisie. It progressively lost its overall importance as Dutch became recognized as well. This recognition became official in 1898 and in 1967 a Dutch version of the Constitution was legally accepted.
The Berlin Conference of 1885 ceded control of the Congo Free State to King Leopold II as his private possession. From around 1900 there was growing international concern for the extreme and savage treatment of the Congolese population under Leopold II, for whom the Congo was primarily a source of revenue from ivory and rubber production. In 1908 this outcry led the Belgian state to assume responsibility for the government of the colony, henceforth called the Belgian Congo. Germany invaded Belgium in 1914 as part of the Schlieffen Plan and much of the Western Front fighting of World War I occurred in western parts of the country. The opening months of the war were known as the Rape of Belgium due to German atrocities. Belgium took over the German colonies of Ruanda-Urundi (modern day Rwanda and Burundi) during the war, and they were mandated to Belgium in 1924 by the League of Nations. In the aftermath of the First World War, the Prussian districts of Eupen and Malmedy were annexed by Belgium in 1925, thereby causing the presence of a German-speaking minority.
The country was again invaded by Germany in 1940 and was occupied until its liberation by the Allies in 1944. After World War II, a general strike forced king Leopold III, who many saw as collaborating with the Germans during the war, to abdicate in 1951. The Belgian Congo gained independence in 1960 during the Congo Crisis; Ruanda-Urundi followed with its independence two years later. Belgium joined NATO as a founding member and formed the Benelux group of nations with the Netherlands and Luxembourg. Belgium became one of the six founding members of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951 and of the European Atomic Energy Community and European Economic Community, established in 1957. The latter is now the European Union, for which Benelux hosts major administrations and institutions, including the European Commission, the Council of the European Union and the extraordinary and committee sessions of the European Parliament.
The recorded history of Luxembourg begins with the acquisition of Lucilinburhuc (today Luxembourg Castle) by Siegfried, Count of Ardennes in 963. Around this fort, a town gradually developed, which became the center of a small state of great strategic value. In the 14th and early 15th centuries three members of the House of Luxembourg reigned as Holy Roman Emperors. In 1437, the House of Luxembourg suffered a succession crisis, precipitated by the lack of a male heir to assume the throne, which led to the territory being sold by Duchess Elisabeth to Philip the Good of Burgundy.
In the following centuries, Luxembourg's fortress was steadily enlarged and strengthened by its successive occupants, the Bourbons, Habsburgs, Hohenzollerns, and the French, among others. After the defeat of Napoleon in 1815, Luxembourg was disputed between Prussia and the Netherlands. The Congress of Vienna formed Luxembourg as a Grand Duchy in personal union with the Netherlands. Luxembourg also became a member of the German Confederation, with a Confederate fortress manned by Prussian troops.
The Belgian Revolution of 1830–1839 reduced Luxembourg's territory by more than half, as the predominantly francophone western part of the country was transferred to Belgium. Luxembourg's independence was reaffirmed by the 1839 First Treaty of London. In the same year, Luxembourg joined the Zollverein. Luxembourg's independence and neutrality were again affirmed by the 1867 Second Treaty of London, after the Luxembourg Crisis nearly led to war between Prussia and France. After the latter conflict, the Confederate fortress was dismantled.
The King of the Netherlands remained Head of State as Grand Duke of Luxembourg, maintaining personal union between the two countries until 1890. At the death of William III, the Dutch throne passed to his daughter Wilhelmina, while Luxembourg (at that time restricted to male heirs by the Nassau Family Pact) passed to Adolph of Nassau-Weilburg. During World War I Luxembourg was invaded and occupied by Germany, but was allowed to maintain its independence and political mechanisms.
During World War II, Luxembourg was unable to maintain its policy of neutrality when in 1940 Nazi Germany invaded and occupied the country, due to its strategic location on the invasion route into France. In contrast to the First World War experience, Luxembourg was treated as a Germanic territory and informally annexed to an adjacent province of the Third Reich in 1940. A government in exile based in London fought alongside the Allies, sending a small group of volunteers who participated in the Normandy invasion. Luxembourg was liberated in September 1944. It became a founding member of the United Nations in 1946, and of NATO in 1949. In 1957, Luxembourg became one of the six founding countries of the European Economic Community (later the European Union), and, in 1999, it joined the euro currency era. In 2005, a referendum on the EU treaty establishing a constitution for Europe was held in Luxembourg.
Benelux Economic Union Edit
The Benelux was an economic union in Western Europe comprising of three neighboring countries, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. These countries (now referred to as Non-Provincial Principalities) were located in northwestern Europe between the French and German regions of the Franco-German Commonwealth. The Union's name was 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 also 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 were the Committee of Ministers, the Parliament, the Council of the Union, the Court of Justice, the Secretariat-General, the Organization for Intellectual Property. Many of these institutions still remain. The Benelux Secretary-General was located in Brussels, the Union's capital. It was the central administrative pillar of the Benelux Economic Union. It handled the secretariat of the Committee of Ministers, the Council of Economic Union and the various committees and working parties. Moreover, it ensured the registry of the Benelux Court of Justice.
In April 2011, at a PAFF emergency summit, the representative of the Netherlands was chosen to announce that Luxembourg and the Netherlands are merging, and that Belgium (which was part of the Franco-German Commonwealth) would be joining them. Two days after the announcement, the Treaty of Vianden made it official (at Vianden Castle, Luxembourg), on 19 April 2011. The country's current Coat of Arms is also the Coat of Arms of the city of Vianden. Since the unification, the three reigning monarchs of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg retired and their heirs formed the Royal Council of Benelux, and became the Princes of the Non-Provincial Principalities. The current King of the Union of Benelux is Reinhardt I of Benelux of the newly created House of Utrecht. The Prime Minister is the head of government, currently Jan Petrus Reinaldus Maria van Laarhoven (former Secretary-General of the Economic Union), with his deputy, Hendrik Merkel, who was appointed by the European Union.
In Beneluxbourgen politics, the executive branch of government consists of the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and the cabinet. The legislature, simply called the "Parliament" makes laws and nominates the Prime Minister and his deputy. During elections, the people vote for whichever party they so choose or independent candidates. The parties then choose who will be seated on the 250 seats of parliament.
The King of the Union has executive, legislative and judicial power. In parliament, the monarch can veto any laws and is expected to break ties. While having limited power, he may also act as an ambassador to other nations and give some executive orders. A notable executive power of the King is that he is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, without limitations. The King may pardon any criminal at his convenience (with the advice of the Royal Council and override any court decisions.
Main Article: Benelux Self-Defense Forces
The Benelux Self-Defense Forces is the national military of the Union of Benelux. The BSDF consists of the following four components:
- His Royal Majesty's Army
- His Royal Majesty's Navy
- His Royal Majesty's Air Force
- His Royal Majesty's Police
The highest ranking officer in the Benelux Self-Defense Forces is the Chief of Defense Staff, who answers to the Minister of Defense, Hans Hillen, and His Royal Majesty's Defense Council. The BSDF is limited to the defense of the Union, and is not known for any foreign deployments apart from peacekeeping operations.
Foreign relations Edit
Main article: Foreign relations of Benelux
The Union is a pivotal member of the United Nations, as the International Criminal Court is located in The Hague, the Netherlands. Benelux maintains strong relations with the Western World and has sought to keep themselves neutral in most major conflicts since the Treaty of Vianden. The two liberal governments of Benelux and the Union of Everett have always maintained a friendly and cooperative relationship in the social, political and economic areas.
In June 2012, the Union sent official representation to the international "Operation Facepalm" and provided a headquarters for its activities. The Operation is about the recent global political instability, moreover since 1950, when nations started forming and dissolving, and politics and warfare became wildly out of control.
Main Article: Provinces of Benelux
The Union consists of 30 provinces, and 4 Non-Provincial Principalities. Each province is administered by a Count, which is elected each five years. Each NPP is led by a prince, which is the leader of the principality until death or becoming the Monarch.
Main Article: Media in Benelux