This was a big week for the European Economic and Social Committee and a very successful and productive one. For me, administrative-level meetings apart, it started on Tuesday morning with a fascinating meeting of the Quaestors (I’m going to do a separate post on that), continued on Tuesday afternoon with the Committee’s Bureau, and ended on Wednesday and yesterday with the Committee’s plenary session. The Bureau agreed on an action plan to flesh out the President’s ambition for the Committee to adopt a sort of ‘White Paper’, to be addressed to the other institutions, particularly the Parliament, in the run-up to the European elections. It also approved a new decentralised approach to budgetary management. This seems an esoteric topic but once implemented will actually represent a significant change in the way the Committee does its business. Then, on Wednesday and Thursday, we had a number of important debates, not least of them an exchange of views with Alexandr Vondra, the Czech Deputy Prime Minister (that’s him on the right in the picture) and one on the European Commission’s Economic Recovery Plan, culminating in the near-unanimous adoption of an opinion drafted by Thomas Delapina, an Austrian (Group II) member who is also Director of the Austrian Economic and Social Council (that’s him below). Vondra began with a wry observation about how the Czech Presidency’s ‘three Es’ (the economy, energy and external relations) had rapidly been reduced to the ‘two Gs’; gas and Gaza! The Delapina debate and vote was a graphic illustration of how the Committee can achieve broad consensus, even on potentially prickly topics. I’ll try and do separate posts about events this week, but today I am about to plunge into a series of follow-up and coordination meetings (indeed, Fridays are always catch-up days).