The Basque Country and Quebec agree to open up a cooperation channel for matters relating to the economy, culture, the environment and foreign affairs

2015 December 8

Lehendakari Iñigo Urkullu, the Basque Premier, met with the Premier of Quebec, Philippe Couillard. The meeting was held in the Quebec delegation in Paris, following which both leaders announced the setting up of a working party to specific the areas underpinning a Basque Country-Quebec cooperation agreement to be unveiled in 2016.  This agreement could be based on matters linked to the economy,  with the opening up of a maritime channel between both countries, to culture as part of “Donostia 2016", the  environment  by consolidating international networks, and, finally, external action.

Lehendakari Urkullu stressed the long-standing relationship between both parties which will be the basis to establish a cooperation channel. The Lehendakari explained that the opening up of a maritime channel linking the Basque Country and Quebec appears as one of the spheres of cooperation to be addressed in the short term. “The Basque Country would be the gateway to Europe for Quebec on the Atlantic seaboard and, in turn, Quebec would facilitate access for Basque products to the Canadian and US market, with the latter being the third destination for Basque exports," explained the Lehendakari.

As regards culture, the Lehendakari recalled that the long-standing relationship between Quebec and the Basque Country dates back to the time when Basque whalers settled in Quebec territory. Urkullu believes  it is necessary to highlight this joint past and also to learn about or share expertise on policies to promote the cultural and creative industries.  Therefore, Donostia 2016 is a magnificent setting to embrace this cooperation by means of joint actions,” he stressed.

There is currently a relationship in place regarding the environment as both countries co-chair The Climate Group international network which has presented its commitments regarding climate change. Quebec and the Basque Country have undertaken to follow in that line. On the other hand, both the Basque Country and Quebec share the same vision of international outreach  and have expressed their desire to carry out joint actions in the future.

The Lehendakari is heading the Basque delegation that is in Paris for the Climate Summit - COP31.  . The Basque Government‘s Minister for the Environment and Territorial Policy, Ana Oregi, its General Secretary for External Action, Marian Elorza, its Deputy Minister for the Administration and Territorial Planning, Izaskun Iriarte, and its Director for Foreign Affairs, Leyre Madariaga were at the meeting held in the Quebec delegation this morning.  Quebec was represented by its Premier, Philippe Couillard, and its delegate in Paris, Michel Robitaille.

Connection between the Basque Country and Quebec.

Basques have been present in Quebec's coastal territories for centuries.  Thus, for example, the Basque Adventure Park is located in Trois Pistoles, and just a few kilometres away, in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, the remains can still be seen of the Basques' first major "international implementation”, fishing and whaling.

The Montreal euskal etxea (Basque cultural centre)  brings together the Basque community in Quebec.


Lehendakari Urkullu then held a meeting with the Prime Minister of KwaZulu Natal (South Africa), Edward Senzo Mchunu. KwaZulu Natal is the second province in terms of contribution to South Africa’s GDP. 

The Basque Country and KwaZulu Natal are members of The Climate Group.  During the meeting, both parties sought to find aspects in common regarding the economy, the environment, university education, technology and industry linked to renewable energy. 

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Politicians attending the event
(X term 2012 - 2016)