GAINDEGIA, Observatory for Social and Economic Development in the Basque Country
The Basque social end economic agents (business people, professionals, trade-unionists, members of the university community, journalists and other agents from the social or labour field of work) wish to keep careful track of the profound process of change that is currently ongoing in our environment. We also wish to be a part of that change.
In creating GAINDEGIA we do not intend to substitute anyone or anything, rather, we want to fill an existing gap. The changes taking place in the broad Basque social and economic environment directly affect us, which is why we want to play a leading role in that process. In the time elapsed between the industrial revolution and the massive growth of information technologies, the social and economic landscape in the Basque Country has undergone radical change. Amongst the problems and factors that condition the structure and development of the Basque Country we can cite the following: the process of deindustrialisation, which we continue to suffer; the rapid development of the language and culture industry; the non-stop spread of means of transport; the growth in consumption; the relentless ageing of our population; the arrival of immigrants and the associated integration difficulties; and the degradation of our natural environment.
In this country, with a population smaller than three million, industry, ways of speaking and sceneries can be very diverse from Atharratze to Turtzioz, from Labastida to Gixune or from Hondarribia to Ablitas . Despite its small size, heterogeneity is a one of the main features of the Basque Country and we in GAINDEGIA would like to contribute to highlight and strengthen its identity as a nation.
The evolution of the Basque Country is influenced by the process of European integration and by globalisation. We are moving from the old EEC to a new form of political and social organisation. This small corner of the Atlantic Axis is but a minor piece in the development model that the main states in the Union are designing. The Basque Country has historically been a crossroads between the Iberian Peninsula and the European Continent. This location has significantly influenced our history. We have been a melting pot for cultures and languages, while maintaining our own sense of identity all along. Our economy and our social development are closely linked to our being a crossroads. We managed to turn the sea into an open space and a source of wealth instead of an obstacle for our development. Overall we have managed to make our geographical location profitable.
In any case, we are in the midst of a process of far-reaching change. What is at stake is how we shall take part in such an interdependent world. We know that the situation is not an easy one but on the other hand, when did we ever enjoy an easy set of circumstances? We must analyse our limitations and our weaknesses, but never in order to give up. Blaming others for the ills that affect us; blaming the difficult situation, foreigners, those in government, etc. is a futile exercise. If it is true that those things that are wrong were forced upon us, we cannot expect others to right their wrongs; we shall have to do it ourselves. In such a changing situation as the current one, there is an element we must take on as soon as possible: joint work; coming together in order to cooperate. Cohesion and auzolan (joint work in a community) will be the keys to our development over the coming years. In the new Basque society, information, education, technology transfers, constant exchange of ideas and the ability to transform will all be fundamental for social and economic development. Therefore, our actions, the actions of the social and economic agents will be crucial for the future of our country.