This afternoon the EESC’s Budget Group met and I participated in a number of important discussions on its agenda, including those concerning the 2011 budget’s implementation, the state of play on the 2012 draft budget and the start of the drafting process for the 2013 budget. The Budget Group also agreed with the administration’s suggestions concerning the 2012 amending budget to anticipate Croation accession in 2013. These are ‘interesting times’, in the Chinese sense of the term. The European Commission has just tabled its proposals for administrative reform but we won’t know the outcome of those for some time to come. Also, we don’t know yet what our final 2012 budget will look like (and, with rumours of ‘provisional twelths’, we may even not know by the time we have to table our 2013 draft budget) and yet the Commission proposes 2012 as the base year for the implementation of its proposed reforms (to be implemented as of 2013). At the same time, we know already that we need increases in 2012 and 2013 to deal with Croatian accession. Last but not least, we won’t know the indicative rate of inflation for 2013 until the beginning of next year (and then it is only an educated guess), and yet our rent payments (for example) are index-linked. Budgeting should be an exact science but under these circumstances and at this stage it necessarily remains something of a guessing game.