The Lisbon Treaty – unanimously approved by the twenty-seven Heads of State or Government and ratified by the twenty seven member states – not only consolidated the roles of the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions but actually increased their tasks and prerogatives. The budgets of the Committees are truly tiny. Taken together, they represent just 2.56% of the EU’s overall administrative budget (the EESC represents 1.57% of that). The EESC’s budget of € 129m amounts to just 0.09% of the EU’s overall budget. Put another way, of the €284 that the EU will cost each citizen in 2011, just €0.25 will go towards the EESC – that’s right; just twenty-five cents. The European Economic and Social Committee is composed of 344 members drawn from the twenty-seven member states, working in twenty-two different languages and producing on average over 200 reasoned opinions of high quality annually. Nine plenary sessions are held each year and in between these over two thousand meetings per year are organised, typically including a number of major conferences both in Brussels and in the Member States. A very small secretariat of around 750 officials (smaller than virtually all of the European Commission’s Directorates General) services all of these activities (translation included). When there’s talk about bangs for bucks, that seems to me to be a hell of a lot for 25 cents! Moreover, considerable economies – calculated to be around €30 million a year – are achieved because, in a revolutionary and exemplary arrangement, the two Committees pool a lot of their resources (they share their buildings and pool their translators, for example) in order to achieve economies of scale and synergies. But perhaps above all, the Committee provides excellent value for money because of the simple fact that its 344 members are not paid; their travel is reimbursed and they receive a daily allowance when on Committee business, but they do not get paid a salary for their work. (Reimbursement of members’ travel expenses will cost each EU citizen just 3.5 cents in 2011.) In other words, EESC members are volunteers; they work for the EESC because the organisations they represent in the member states believe it can make a difference and our members themselves feel that they can make an authentic contribution.