BENELUX: Goal Reached

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Back in 1946, in a historic meeting at The Hague, the leaders of Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg committed their nations to a far-reaching experiment in cooperation and trust among Europe's sovereign states—an economic union that obliterated economic borders to let goods, capital and labor flow as freely as they do across U.S. state lines.

Meeting at The Hague last week, Premiers of the three nations looked back on eleven years' experience of union, and found it good. Lowered trade barriers had not brought ruinous competition for small local industries, but expansion. Trade among the three countries has trebled in a decade (to $1,100,000,000 in 1956), while trade with other countries doubled (to $10,781,200,000 in 1956). ,

Premiers and Foreign Ministers forthwith signed a treaty that formalized the steps already progressively taken, and the Benelux Economic Union, the world's fourth largest foreign trader, was officially born. "There is no longer any doubt that we will stay united," declared Belgium's Premier Achille Van Acker. As a pilot plant for the European Common Market, in which the three small nations are joined with France, West Germany and Italy, Benelux augured well.