Once more the familiar machinery of a plenary session week whirrs into action: early this morning, the management board meeting, and then the ‘pre-session’, and this afternoon a preparatory meeting of the enlarged Presidency (the President, Vice-Presidents, Group Presidents and the Secretary General). The challenge, as always, is to alloy the reliability and dependability of the administrative machine (particularly making sure that everything works and is in place, including everything to do with languages – translation and interpretation) with the authenticity of due political process (including the give-and-take of political debate and, at times, the unpredictability of outcomes).