Prime Minister Stephen Harper said that Canada is working towards a "comprehensive and truly historic" economic partnership with the European Union.

Harper made the comments at a press conference Friday, after meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and the president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso.

Harper said that Canada and the European Union had agreed "to define the formal mandates for an ambitious, deeper and comprehensive and truly historic economic partnership agreement."

"Without question, these times call for closer economic co-operation among key players in the global economy," Harper added.

No details were given on the plan.

Harper, Sarkozy and Barroso were greeted by Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean ahead of tonight's summit of La Francophonie, an organization of 55 French-speaking nations.

Harper has vowed to make sure Canadian banks are not negatively impacted by ongoing rescue efforts in Europe and the U.S., where governments are providing aid to financial institutions.

Sarkozy delivered an address to the National Assembly Friday afternoon.

"The president of France gave a very heartfelt speech . . . Mr. Sarkozy said 'while Canada is our friend, Quebec is our family," CTV's Rosemary Thompson told Mike Duffy Live Friday from Quebec City.

Premier Jean Charest and Sarkozy signed an agreement Friday that will allow a number French professionals and tradespersons to work in Quebec. The same applies for Quebec citizens who want to work in France in those same professions.

About a dozen professions and two-dozen trades are included in the deal. That will climb to about 100 by 2010.

"For instance, if you were a doctor in France you could come and work in Quebec as a doctor and there wouldn't be a hassle over credentials," Thompson told CTV Newsnet from Quebec City.

Transportation Minister Lawrence Cannon told Mike Duffy Live that Canada "has to seek out new markets" in these times of economic uncertainty.

Cannon said they are working on an "open-skies" agreement with the EU.

In the evening, Sarkozy will attend the official opening of the summit of La Francophonie.

However, the French leader has cut short his visit and will not attend the closing ceremonies of the summit -- a first for any French president.

Instead, Sarkozy will travel to Camp David in Maryland on Saturday for meetings with U.S. President George Bush.

"It's a bit disappointing," Christine St-Pierre, Quebec's minister responsible for the provincial language law, said Thursday.

Quebec Premier Jean Charest said the shortened visit was understandable given the "extraordinary circumstances."

Sarkozy's wife, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, will not be travelling with her husband.

With files from The Canadian Press