The Benelux is the economic union of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. The treaty establishing the Benelux Customs Union was signed in 1944. During the 40’s and 50’s, the treaty, as well as the economic integration were strengthened over and over again. Indeed, after the establishment of the EEC the economic affairs of the three Benelux countries were adjusted to the economic policies of the Community, however, their close co-operation exercises significant functions even through their great political authority. Benelux General Secretariat has its headquarters in Brussels.
2. Visegrad group.
After the summit meeting held at the Castle of Visegrad, in Budapest, on February 15, 1991, Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia (respectively the two countries Czech Republic and Slovakia) are referred to as the Visegrad group. The Visegrad Group reflects the efforts of the countries of the Central European region to work together in a number of fields of common interest within all-European integration.
3.European Free trade Association (EFTA).
The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) was founded in 1960 as a reaction to the establishment of EEC, in order to safeguard the trade interests of those countries that were not members of the EEC. In the course of time, the two organizations developed close economic relations with each other, which resulted in 1994 the foundation of the European Economic Area. EFTA lost some of its significance after a certain number of its member countries joined the Community. After Finland, Austria and Sweden joined the EU (in year 1995 ), today only Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland remain members of EFTA.
4. European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development was established on April 4, 1991, with its headquarters in London. Like the the European Investment Bank, it provides loans to support private and corporate initiatives and infrastructure projects that promote the transition to an open market economy in Central and Eastern Europe. With the Council Decision of 1996, the bank doubled its capital base to ECU 20 billion. The European Union and its Member States have the controlling interest as founders of the ERBD – 51%. In 1996 the Bank financed 95 new projects at the amount of ECU 2,19 billion
5.European Economic Area (EEA).
In relation to the Agreement dating back to 1992, the area of EFTA and EU is considered to be the European Economic Area. With the EEA-Agreement, a single European market was created in which 380 million people live and in which goods, people, services, capital and labour force can circulate freely. With the EEA-Agreement, over 80% of the EU Single Market legislation applies within the whole EEA area. Switzerland did not joint the EEA as originally intended, after a referendum resulted in a “NO” vote. This resulted a delay in the process of ratification and respectively the EEA-Agreement entered into force as late as on January 1, 1994. Significant changes in the EEA situation occurred, as three EFTA countries joined the EU on January 1, 1995.