My first day back at work included a long catch-up session with my President, Staffan Nilsson. I never tire of pointing out that the particular authenticity of the European Economic and Social Committee is derived from the fact that its members do not spend most of their time in Brussels but, rather, live and work in the ‘real world’. In Staffan’s case, he is a dairy farmer, with thirty head of cattle back home. As usual, his skull bore bruises from where he had bumped himself on the bonnet of his tractor (which is forever breaking down). He told me about the effects of a great windstorm that affected northern Sweden on the night between Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Fallen trees led to a general powercut. This meant that he couldn’t milk the cows. Ultimately, power was restored, but not before Staffan had scoured the region for an emergency generator. Of course, we didn’t only talk about Staffan’s travails on the farm but having heard this particular story it was obvious to me why Dacian Ciolos, the European Commissioner with responsibility for Agriculture, insists on frequent visits to the EESC, for the Committee’s members genuinely know what they are talking about.