Skip to main content
Login | Suomeksi | På svenska | In English

Browsing by Author "Bracke, Michaël"

Sort by: Order: Results:

  • Bracke, Michaël (2023)
    The Benelux Union is an international intergovernmental organization consisting out of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxemburg. It is not a very well-known institution, but it has been existing for many decades. As the three member states are also founding members of the European Union, these two institutions have an interesting dynamic. For as long as it has existed, the Benelux Union has been functioning as laboratory for European integration. The Benelux can thus be seen as frontrunners, and therefore as some sort of leaders. The research goal was to find out if the Benelux Union is used as a vehicle by the Benelux countries to increase their influence in the European Union. This thesis draws upon the concept of multi-speed integration, where countries who decide to integrate further than the current European integration pressure other states to follow. Thus by being frontrunners, countries could increase integration within the European Union. These frontrunners also have more to say about the way and degree in which integration takes place. It can therefore be beneficial for EU member states to act as frontrunners. In order to find the answers to the research and sub-questions, the choice was made to use qualitative methods. To be more precise, a combination between document analysis and elite interviews have been employed to provide the answers. Evaluations by the Dutch government on the Benelux Union or Benelux cooperation in the EU were the most important documents. These evaluations, together with some other documents, were supplemented by nine interviews conducted with one academic expert and officials from the three countries and the Benelux Union itself. There are three main findings. Firstly, the Benelux puts a huge emphasis on its role as laboratory because it sends out a signal to the other European countries. A signal that expresses the Benelux’ support for European integration, which increases trust towards them. From the Benelux Union itself, it sends the signal they are still a relevant institution, even though the EU has taken most policy fields in which the Benelux is active. Secondly, in some occasions, Benelux integration may serve as a catalyst for further European integration. If the Benelux countries launch successful projects, many other European states may decide to join this initiative. Whenever enough countries have joined, the project might be scaled up to the European level. The last and main finding gives an answer to the research question. The Benelux Union increases Benelux influence in the EU indirectly by supporting coalition building among the Benelux states. Moreover, it gives its member states a very positive image on the international stage. If this is not enough, the Benelux states might decide they want to implement a new project in the Benelux Union to use these results as an argument to implement this at the European level. It has to be noted that there are not a significant amount of examples of this direct form.