Brussels, Belgium. Lehendakari Iñigo Urkullu began his official visit to Brussels with a reception for the local Basque community. Some 100 people congregated at the Delegation of Euskadi in the city, and Urkullu reiterated his commitment to Europe, assuring them that “it is key” for the future of the country. “Our ambition is to grow as a country in the new Europe of employment, culture and solidarity,” he asserted, to continue hulling various aspects of “Euskadi’s European agenda.”
In regards to his visit to Brussels, the Lehendakari traveled accompanied by the Secretary General of Foreign Action, Marian Elorza, Director of European Affairs, Mikel Anton and the delegate of the Basque Government in Brussels, Marta Marin.
Video of the reception at the Delegation of Euskadi in Brussels and of Urkullu's speech (image Irekia)
Those attending the reception included several civil servants, politicians and workers at Basque companies and institutions in the European capital as well as other Basques and members of the local Basque club. During his speech, Urkullu referred to the Europe that the founding fathers imagined (Schuman, De Gasperi, Adenauer, Agirre, Landaburu and Irujo): “integrated by its diversity and respect for the people that comprises it.” Based on these values, the Lehendakari was detailing the “Euskadi’s European agenda,” which he said is based on: support for stimulating economic policies and integrating youth into the world of work; concern for the refugee situation; Basque contribution to the White Book on the future of Europe and its social rights; presence of nations as a tool of integration and presence of Euskadi on the “Social Summit for Fair Employment and Growth” to be held in Gothenburg, Sweden in November.
“You represent us every day”
One hundred people attended the reception at the Delegation of Euskadi in Brussels. The Lehendakari referred to them all in saying “you represent us every day.” Europe is “key” for Euskadi, Urkullu reiterated putting value on the presence of Basques in Europe: “you are all part of the Basque community in Europe and you are a reference for our country.”
The Lehendakari analyzed the sociopolitical situation of Euskadi since his first visit to Brussels and affirmed that “today Euskadi is creating employment.” Comparing data from four years ago, he affirmed that today 40,000 more people are working. Urkullu defended that this is the way forward, and has set getting the unemployment rate under 10% as a goal.
In regards to ETA’s disarmament, he declared that it has meant “the consolidation of a peace scenario, after years of terrorism.” According the Lehendakari “we are moving forward in a new coexistence” also linked to the new Human Rights Agenda: “Basque institutions are hoping for a Europe that complies with the objectives of resettlement and relocation of refugees.” In this regard, he referred to the results of the elections in France that in the words of the Lehendakari have been “a boost to European integration.”
Concerning the agreement reached on the Economic Agreement, he said that “Euskadi is experiencing a climate of political and institutional dialogue and a stable scenario,” with the agreement that “strengthens the Agreement system, consolidates the bilateral relations of Euskadi/State and also the uniqueness of self-governing Basques,” he said.
Meeting with President Juncker
After the reception with the Basque community in Belgium, the Lehendakari held various official meetings with the supreme representations of European institutions: with the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker; the Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, Pierre Moscovici; and the coordinator of “Brexit” negations in the European Parliament, Guy Verhofstadt.