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On 18 April 2012 the Ministers of Defence of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxemburg signed the Benelux Declaration on Defence Cooperation. This declaration aims to expand and deepen the long-standing Benelux cooperation in the field of defence, with a view to implementing the EU-promoted “pooling and sharing” policy in order to increase military effectiveness through the process of bringing armed forces closer together, cost-sharing and increasing the output in favour of operational capabilities. The Benelux countries identified several areas of cooperation, including logistics and maintenance, training, the execution of some military missions as well as the acquisition of equipment.
This renewed Benelux cooperation paved the way for further integration between the armed forces of the three countries and for joint participation in NATO and European Union operations, through joint training and exercises as well as improved interoperability.
The integrated Belgian-Dutch naval cooperation served as an example for the implementation of the Benelux Declaration. Other forms of cooperation have developed since then. For example, the Benelux Arms Control Agency was set up in 2014 and is in charge of conducting weapon inspections abroad. In 2015 the Benelux countries formalised a collaboration agreement in the field of aeromedical evacuation and signed a treaty for the joint monitoring of Benelux airspace. The land forces of the three countries have also entered a formal partnership this year.
We are honoured to welcome Mrs Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, Minister of Defence of the Netherlands. She will outline the situation regarding Benelux cooperation in the field of defence and present the Dutch Ministry of Defence’s vision on this topic.