Benelux is a common name for the three neighboring countries in Western Europe - Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.
The cooperation between the Baltic and Benelux countries, formally started in 2007, is important to Lithuania for the opportunity to take over the experience of Benelux integration and best practices as well as to discuss with the “EU core” member states the most relevant issues of the EU and international agenda. In recent years, the Baltic and Benelux countries focused their discussions on the geopolitical challenges, security in the Eastern region and the coordination of positions on the important EU issues, such as migration, EU enlargement, neighborhood policy.
The initiative to start closer intergovernmental cooperation of the Baltic States - Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia - and the Benelux countries has been proposed by Belgium in 2006. Cooperation was encouraged by common interests within the European Union, especially on the EU institutional and external relations issues, as well as by similar size of participating countries. It was agreed that the meetings of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs would be held annually, meetings of Prime Ministers – if appropriate. Additionally meetings of Political Directors’ as well as EU experts of the Foreign Affairs Ministries’ are being organized. Representatives of the Baltic and Benelux countries also meet at various levels and exchange views on important issues with their Scandinavian counterparts, thus expanding the successful Nordic-Baltic co-operation.
Baltic-Benelux meetings have proved to be a mutually beneficial format for sharing the views on relevant EU and international topics. Over 20 different level meetings have been organized, 12 at the level of Foreign Ministers. Traditionally the meetings are being organized alternately in the Baltic and Benelux countries.
- March 8, 2007 the first meeting of Prime Ministers of Baltic and Benelux countries took place in Belgium.
- October 2-3, 2007 the first meeting of Foreign Ministers of Baltic and Benelux countries was organized in Latvia.
- November 14, 2016 meeting of Foreign Ministers of Baltic and Benelux countries was held in Brussels.
- June 16, 2019 meeting of Foreign Ministers of Baltic and Benelux took place in Luxembourg.
November 8, 2019 the heads of the Ministries of Education of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg signed a declaration of intent in Brussels on the automatic mutual recognition of higher education degrees. This agreement would be a great example of practical cooperation between the Benelux and the Baltic States.
The cooperation of the Baltic and Benelux countries is developed also on the parliamentary format - trough the close collaboration of the Baltic Assembly and the Benelux Interparliamentary Consultative Council. In 1994, the Common Declaration on the parliamentary cooperation was signed marking the beginning of the Baltic – Benelux parliamentary relations.