The name Benelux is formed from joining the first two or three letters of each country's name – Belgium Netherlands Luxembourg – and was first used to name the customs agreement that initiated the union (signed in 1944). It is now used more generally to refer to the geographic, economic and cultural grouping of the three countries.
The main institutions of the Union are the Committee of Ministers, the Benelux Parliament, the Council of the Union and the Secretariat-General, while the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property and the Benelux Court of Justice cover the same territory but are not part of the Union.
The Benelux General Secretariat is located in Brussels. It is the central administrative pillar of the Benelux Union. It handles the secretariat of the Committee of Ministers, the Council of Economic Union and the various committees and working parties.
A Benelux Parliament (originally referred to as an "Interparliamentary Consultative Council") was created in 1955. This parliamentary assembly is composed of 21 members of the Dutch parliament, 21 members of the Belgian national and regional parliaments, and 7 members of the Luxembourg parliament.