The plenary session continued today with a rich agenda. First off, Vice-President Jacek Krawczyk presented the draft 2012 budget, unanimously agreed by the Bureau yesterday, to the assembly. This was followed by expert debates on, variously, the future of the Common Agricultural Policy (the rapporteur was Franco Chiriaco, and Italian member of the Employees’ Group), a single European railway area (the rapporteur was Raymond Hencks, a Luxembourg member of the Employees’ Group), the role of economic and social councils and similar institutions in the new world governance (the rapporteur and co-rapporteur were, respectively, Madi Sharma, a British member of the Employers’ Group, and Agnes Cser, a Hungarian member of the Employees’ Group), energy market integrity and transparency (the rapporteur was Edgardo Iozia, an Italian member of the Employees’ Group), and the development of a European road safety area (the rapporteur was Mr Jan Simons, a Dutch member of the Employers’ Group). Sitting alongside my President through all of these debates was not only a fascinating illustration of the breadth and depth of our members’ expertise but also gave me a real sense of Europe in the making. There was also an interesting ‘technical’ opinion with the prosaic title of ‘the application of emission stages to narrow-track tractors’. As our kilted Scottish rapporteur, Brendan Burns (UK, Employers’ Group), a forester himself, pointed out, here is one example of the devil being in the detail. Narrow-track tractors are an ubiquitous part of the agricultural landscape in southern Europe, working in vineyards and vegetable plots and terraces. But it is not easy to build such tractors whilst respecting the Union’s policy on emissions and the European Commission has therefore proposed to delay full implementation so as to allow the manufacturing industry to adapt. Prosaic it may seem, but as Burns informed the plenary, these tractors have sales of around 26,000 units a year and represent about 16% of the the new tractors market in the EU. In closing, Burns’s opinion points out that if the Commission had carried out an impact assessment when, in 2005, it decided to extend the emissions policy to agricultural and forestry tractors, it would have discovered the exceptional situation for which it was now obliged to legislate. And Burns should know – he has several tractors!