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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Breaking Story: Union of Benelux

The Dutch, Belgian and Luxembourgish governments have today signed an Act of Union, uniting the three countries into the United Kingdom of Benelux.

The new federal government will be based in Amsterdam, the new capital of Benelux.

Belgium and Luxembourg will each have its own devolved government handling local affairs.

The Netherlands will be divided into 6 regions - North, South, West, East and Central Netherlands and the City Region of Amsterdam.

A devolved government for the Netherlands was mooted but was considered too great a risk to the union. The government of Benelux is drawing up plans for regional government in the Netherlands at some point in the future.

A Dutch campaign group raised the concern that Belgian and Luxembourgish politicians would be voting on legislation that only applied to the Netherlands. The Belgian-born president of Benelux gave the matter consideration but it was thought that preventing them from doing so would disenfranchise voters outside of the Netherlands and the concerns were dismissed.

As part of the terms of the Union of Benelux, the Netherlands will pay off the national debt of Belgium and Luxembourg and a new funding structure put in place which will see the Netherlands subsidise Belgium and Luxembourg whilst they work towards bringing their economy up to the same level as the Netherlands.