This month, Belgium takes over the presidency of the Benelux for one year. Initially, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sophie Wilmès was to present the priorities of this presidency at a ceremony in Brussels, but given the sanitary evolution and the outbreak of new variants, a meeting with her Dutch and Luxembourg colleagues Stefan Blok and Jean Asselborn will be held at a later stage.
The priorities of this Belgian presidency are the strengthening of the internal market, sustainability (in terms of the economy, energy and mobility) and security (particularly the fight against cross-border crime and radicalism). These priorities are aimed at achieving tangible results for citizens and businesses. They are part of the 2021 annual work plan and the 2021-2024 multi-year program of the Benelux Union. During its presidency, Belgium will ensure continuity, while also taking a flexible approach.
Strengthening the ties between the Benelux and the European Union will be an important guiding principle throughout the Belgian Presidency. Historically, Benelux has played a pioneering role in Europe and has demonstrated the importance of jointly tackling the many challenges in the economic, social, security and health fields. The Belgian Presidency will also continue the political cooperation of the Benelux on subjects that are central to the European agenda and foreign policy, increasing the visibility and value of our positions.
Foreign Minister Wilmès: “Benelux cooperation is more relevant and necessary than ever. Not only as a testing ground for European cooperation but also as an exemplary model of regional integration and a source of inspiration for other regions within Europe and far beyond. It is therefore essential that we set ourselves clear goals and achieve concrete results. It is my explicit wish and ambition that the Belgian presidency can contribute significantly to this. “