Political and institutional relations - Belgium / Netherlands and Luxembourg
Québec maintains its most significant ties in Belgium with federated entities such as Wallonia, Flanders and the Brussels-Capital Region. However relations between Québec and Federal Belgium have increased since 2005.
Belgium is of undeniable interest to Québec, particularly owing to Québec’s close ties with French-speaking and Flemish-speaking entities.
40 years of relations in the Benelux
In 2012, Québec commemorated the fortieth anniversary of its presence in Belgium. The Québec Government Office in Brussels (DGQB) opened on September 26, 1972.
Over the past four decades, scores of achievements have helped build bridges across the Atlantic between government officials, business people, expert researchers and artists. This has resulted in ever-increasing positive outcomes for the economy, culture, education, science, and state governance.
In addition to its strategic position, choosing Brussels stemmed both from the natural ties that Québec was already maintaining with the Francophone portion of Belgium and the fact that it is home to the European Union’s main institutions.
The mandate of the Québec Government Office in Brussels quickly extended beyond Belgium’s borders to include the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the Netherlands and European institutions.
The 1980s: laying the groundwork
During the second decade of Québec’s presence in Brussels, several cooperation agreements were signed. In 1980, a permanent Wallonia-Québec committee was established to implement industrial, scientific and technological cooperation. In 1989, a cooperation agreement with a more institutional and political focus was made official. That same year, Québec also signed a cooperation agreement on language issues with the French Community of Belgium (FCB).
In 1984, a permanent tool to benefit youth was created: the Québec-Wallonia-Brussels Agency for Youth. Now known as the Québec-Wallonia-Brussels Youth Office (OQWBJ), this organization currently enables nearly 600 young Quebecers to carry out internships in the Benelux. 1984 also saw the creation of the Rapsat-Lelièvre Award to reward vocal artists and stimulate the production and distribution of French-language recordings.
In 1986, Flanders and Québec signed a scientific agreement on biotechnology and information technology. Three years later, bilateral relations were redefined within the framework of a general cooperation agreement covering the economic sectors.
The 1990’s: expansion
Québec’s relations with its Benelux partners continued to grow.
In 1999, Québec and Francophone entities in Belgium (the Walloon Region and the French Community) decided to further vitalize their cooperation by signing a new agreement and adding another partner: the French Community Commission of the Brussels-Capital Region (COCOF).
Since 2000: consolidation
In 2001, Québec and the Netherlands signed a social security reciprocity agreement. A similar agreement was ratified with Belgium in 2010 allowing citizens to maintain their protection while working or studying in the other territory and apply those years of service toward their pensions. A driver’s licence exchange agreement with Belgium went into effect in October, 2010.
Relations with Flanders were strengthened in summer 2001 when the Minister-President of Flanders and the Premier of Québec signed a joint statement designating the cultural, economic, scientific and technological sectors as key driving forces for cooperation.
The following year, the Government of Québec and the Brussels-Capital Region signed a cooperation agreement which was followed in 2006 by an agreement focusing more specifically on the establishment of a joint industrial and technological cooperation program.
Political relations with the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg were made official through an education and training cooperation agreement signed in 2002 as well as through an international collaboration institutional agreement to strengthen information security.
Since 2007, the Québec Government Office in Brussels has been playing a leading role in promoting the Canada-EU economic partnership project by raising awareness about it in the political and business communities. Negotiations on the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union (CETA) were launched in 2009.
2012 and beyond: perspectives
Québec intends to continue the close cooperation it has established with its partners in the economic, cultural and institutional sectors.
The next few years will be just as crucial for relations with the European Union and will include what promise to be defining moments: the signing and entry into force of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union and the implementation of the Plan Nord.
Last update: 2017-03-17 3:07:37 PM