It has always struck me how the Basque Country – a region with its own language and very strong regional identity, policies and politics – manages to achieve a regional-global balance. It strives not only to preserve its own cultural identity and uniqueness, but to strengthen it in a very proactive way. And yet, while there is caution in not wanting to be overrun or diluted by “outside” influence, at the same time, the Basques still manage to be open to the world.
What better symbol of this than the European Diploma 2020 that Bilbao will be receiving from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), along with 12 other towns/cities across Europe. These diplomas are awarded in recognition of a municipality’s efforts to promote European values. It is one of four award categories: European Diploma, Flag of Honour, Plaque of Honour, and finally, the Europe Prize, given to one candidate from a shortlist – an honor that was bestowed upon San Sebastian/Donosti in 2019.
The fact that two of our cities who take such pride in their strong local and regional identity have been recognized with these awards just goes to show the compatibility of European values and regional identity.