Today is Europe Day around the world and the Saskatchewan government is recognizing a special milestone that comes with that May 9 celebration.
Premier Brad Wall noted that 2016 marks the 40th anniversary of formal co-operation between Canada and the European Union (EU). Forty years ago, the first Canada-EU economic co-operation agreement was signed and the Delegation of the EU to Canada officially opened its embassy doors in Ottawa.
“Europe Day is an annual celebration of peace and unity between European nations: a time for EU member nations to reaffirm the EU’s motto, ‘United in diversity’,” Wall said. “For us in Saskatchewan and Canada, it’s a time to reflect both on Europe’s contributions to our own cultural diversity and on the dynamic trading relationship that has developed, especially over the past four decades.”
The EU is Saskatchewan’s fourth-largest export destination, with $1.1 billion worth of the province’s agriculture and agri-food products going to the EU in 2015. Italy is Saskatchewan’s second-largest buyer of wheat and Belgium is our third-largest buyer of flax.
Major European companies that have invested in Saskatchewan include AREVA, BASF Canada, Bayer Crop Science, Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton. The German company K+S is developing the Legacy potash mine near Bethune.
Wall said the 40th anniversary of Canada-EU trade relations is also a reminder of the many business opportunities on the horizon for Saskatchewan, once the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) comes into force. CETA will provide new markets for Saskatchewan beef, pork, bison, grain and oilseed products and also make Saskatchewan the most attractive destination in the world for EU investment in uranium mining as a result of the easing of Canadian investment restrictions.
“European immigrants were instrumental in settling and building Saskatchewan, and indeed three-quarters of our residents can trace their origins back to Europe,” Wall said. “Those connections with Europe continue and are helping us grow and diversify our economy.”
Europe Day’s origins go back to 1950, when a French historical declaration led to the formation of the first European Community, a forerunner of what is now the EU.