Bilateral relations and regional cooperation

Bilateral relations

With the support of the diplomatic and consular network, the Directorate of European Affairs and International Economic Relations (DII) furthers the development of bilateral relations with the countries of the European Union, EFTA and the candidate countries for EU accession, in close consultation with the relevant ministries and representatives of the public and private sector. It is responsible for the overall coordination of bilateral relations with the above-mentioned countries, in consultation with the other ministerial departments.

The Directorate also coordinates relevant actors when dealing with bilateral cross-border issues, in close consultation with the Department of the Greater Region of the Ministry of Family Affairs, Integration and the Greater Region, which is responsible for institutionalised multilateral cooperation within the Greater Region. In this capacity, the Director of European Affairs and International Economic Relations chairs the Inter-ministerial Coordination Committee for Cross-Border Cooperation (CICT), which organises the consultation with the ministries whose competences and resources will be particularly invested in projects that are envisaged in the context of the neighbourhood diplomacy. The Committee serves as an internal forum for the regular exchange of views between ministerial departments and is responsible for developing a coherent cross-border cooperation policy.

Other meetings with neighbouring countries are also prepared via the CICT network, in particular the joint meetings of the Luxembourg Government and the respective governments of the Saarland and Rhineland-Palatinate, the Belgian-Luxembourg Administrative Commission (CABL) and the Franco-Luxembourg Intergovernmental Commission for the Strengthening of Cross-Border Cooperation (CIG).

The Directorate coordinates the negotiation of international conventions with third countries, in support of the competent ministries in the fields of aviation, social security, investment protection and promotion and double taxation.

Regional cooperation

Belgian-Luxembourg Economic Union

The Convention establishing the Belgian-Luxembourg Economic Union (UEBL) was signed in 1921 and came into force on 6 March 1922. On 23 May 1935 the Convention was supplemented by three other Conventions, which were themselves amended in 1963: (a) the Convention on Financial and Monetary Matters; (b) the Convention establishing a common system for the regulation of imports, exports and transit; (c) the Convention establishing a special revenue community as regards excise duties on alcohol. In 1963, the provisions of the UEBL were revised to take into account the entry into force of the EEC and the Benelux.

The UEBL Convention was amended in Brussels on 18 December 2002 and approved by the Law of 27 May 2004 (Mémorial A n°89 of 17.06.2004) allowing Luxembourg and Belgium to extend their collaboration beyond the mere economic and monetary fields. Thus, the renewed Convention provides the necessary framework for enhanced political and administrative cooperation, particularly in the areas of customs and excise, justice, citizens' security and health.

The Belgian-Luxembourg Administrative Commission (CABL) follows up on the various dossiers and prepares the ministerial meetings. The CABL, which, in principle, meets twice a year, is the main operating mechanism of the UEBL and ensures the cooperation between both administrations. The following items are traditionally on the agenda of each of its meetings: the economic situation of the UEBL, cooperation in international relations, and bilateral dossiers, including cross-border issues.

The CABL is also responsible for preparing the bilateral meetings known as "Gäichel", during which the Belgian and Luxembourg governments organise a joint council of ministers, bringing together ministers active in the field of bilateral or international cooperation.


On 5 September 1944, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg signed the Customs Convention for the creation of a customs union, following the Monetary Convention of 21 October 1943 which fixed the exchange rate between the Belgian-Luxembourg franc and the Dutch guilder. The Benelux Customs Convention entered into force on 1 January 1948.

The Benelux Economic Union was established by the Treaty of 3 February 1958 for an initial period of fifty years. Its aim was to broaden and deepen economic cooperation between the three countries, in particular by enabling them to adopt a common financial and social policy. The Treaty establishing the Benelux Economic Union came into force on 1 November 1960.

Thus, the Benelux played a pioneering role in strengthening European cooperation. Indeed, some areas of cooperation that were launched by the Treaty of 1958 were so successful that their application was extended to the European level. This applies in particular to the free movement of persons (Schengen), the internal market (economic union) and police cooperation.

In view of the expiry of the 1958 Treaty after 50 years and in order to give new impetus to the Benelux cooperation, the Treaty revising the Treaty establishing the Benelux Economic Union was signed in The Hague on 17 June 2008. Under this treaty, the Benelux cooperation now focuses on three main themes: the internal market and economic union, sustainable development, and justice and home affairs. In addition to continuing the Benelux cooperation as a laboratory for Europe, the new Benelux Treaty also gives the Benelux the opportunity to extend cross-border cooperation by concluding agreements with other states or regional groupings of states or with neighbouring Benelux regions or entities. The Treaty revising the Treaty establishing the Benelux Economic Union was ratified by the Act of 4 June 2009 and entered into force on 1 January 2012.

In 2022, Luxembourg will take over the rotating Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Benelux Union for the forth time since the entry into force of the new Benelux Treaty in 2012.

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Technical assistance

The Directorate II finances projects in the field of economic and technical assistance and international training activities in partner countries.

This assistance takes the form of the transfer of scientific or technical knowledge adapted to the needs of the beneficiary countries. The projects are anchored in various sectors in which Luxembourg has specific expertise (public administration and European law, finance, new technologies, research and innovation, press and media, etc.) and are implemented through Luxembourg and European partners.

The technical assistance projects fall within the sectors of Union law, higher education, research and innovation, legal aid and support for the development of democracy in countries in transition. The selection criteria for these projects are directly linked to the missions of the Directorate of European Affairs and International Economic Relations, namely the strengthening of relations with third countries with which Luxembourg could develop economic ties, as well as the development of closer relations with European countries that are in a process of rapprochement with the EU. All implemented projects are subject to a continuous review by the partners with regard to the quality of the cooperation with the beneficiary countries, via the partners, in order to measure their impact.

The MFA study or research scholarships awarded to students who are following a Master's degree course at the University of Luxembourg are intended to foster the deepening of the latter's bilateral relations with institutions of excellence in third countries.

The training provided by the European Institute of Public Administration (EIPA), supporting the efforts of the candidate countries for European accession towards the adoption of the acquis communautaire, is a means of strengthening bilateral relations with these countries whose economies are destined to integrate progressively into the internal market. By sharing Luxembourg's experience in the field of European integration with third countries, the MFA is able to provide useful and targeted assistance while promoting a positive perception of Luxembourg as a country deeply attached to European values.

As a member of the Council of Europe, Luxembourg participates in several technical assistance projects. The mission of the Human Rights Trust Fund is to provide funding for efforts by states (mainly the Western Balkans, Caucasus countries...) to fulfil their obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights and other Council of Europe human rights standards.

Finally, the Directorate directly supports non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in their projects related to the principles of the rule of law, the fight against corruption, the approximation to the acquis communautaire, the promotion of gender equality and the fight against global warming.

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