2010-budget1The EESC’s Budget Group all afternoon. In seeking a new level of transparency and a new, far more strategic, overview for the members, we are all, members and administration, learning by doing, but at the same time we are constrained by the simple fact that our preliminary draft budget for 2010 has to be transmitted to the European Commission by 23 March at the latest, which is hellishly early. It is not easy to introduce a wholesale revolution, including the construction of a new Directorate, in the space of a few months. (The Bureau’s mandate to my Vice-President, Seppo Kallio, was adopted in November, the new Establishment Plan only in December.) Fortunately, the Budget Group members have well understood that we won’t reach true ‘cruising speed’ until we start looking at the 2011 budget. That said, huge progress has already been made and I am sure that our new approach of decentralising budgetary envelopes and hence responsibility to the Committee’s spending actors themselves (linked to regular monitoring and reporting) is what helped convince the budgetary authority to free up the € 1 m that had been placed in the ‘reserve’ so early in this budgetary year.