I had lovely holidays, spent variously in the Ardennes (father-in-law), Cornwall (cousin) and London (friends and relatives). But this past week back at work was a very heavy one, with two strategically important meetings. One was the so-called ‘Presidency seminar’, which brings together the President and two-Vice Presidents of the EESC together with the three Group Presidents and the Secretary General. We spent a lot of time discussing how, in operational and content terms, to flesh out the President’s idea for a ‘white paper’ presenting the Committee’s programme for Europe (from the point of view of organised civil society). All recognise that, in an electoral year, and with the a new Commission expected in the autumn, this is an opportunity not to be missed. The discussion was therefore detailed but always supportive. We’re going to polish off the finalised text at a meeting on Monday afternoon and then in Tuesday’s Bureau meeting. The other important meeting, on Tuesday, was the Budget Group. Together with Seppo Kallio, the EESC Vice-President with responsibility for the budget, we are trying to establish a new, decentralised method for the management of the Committee’s operational budget and a new, far more transparent, method for drawing up budgetary strategies for future years. That is why I have illustrated this post with a picture of a cake in the form of a Rubik’s cube. That just about sums up the complexity of the operation, but we are getting there and we are going to succeed, I am sure. In the meantime, I wish you all a happy, healthy, peaceful and successful 2009.