I gladly came back from my holidays today in order to participate in a meeting of the EESC’s Communication Group, its first meeting under its new Chairwoman, Anna Maria Darmanin (Malta, Employees’ Group). The meeting had a richly heavy agenda, but the point that took me there was the possibility for the Committee to create some sort of organised civil society data base of which it would have sole ownership and which it could offer to the other institutions as an additional source of ‘added value’ in the context of participatory democracy. Sensitive to the resource implications of such large-scale projects, I wanted clear political instructions, and I got them: ‘yes’ to the basic concept, ‘no’ to any major, resource-intensive schemes and ‘yes’ to exploratory thematic pilot projects to test the practicality and the feasibility of such a concept. Afterwards, I cleared the backlog that had rapidly accumulated on my desk and my e-mail in-tray. The EESC is a very small institution relative to giants such as the Commission and the European Parliament and I frequently get the impression that we are watching the gods at sport above our heads. Will there be an agreed budget for 2011? The gods – aka the twin arms of the budgetary authority – will decide. In the meantime, we must necessarily plan for the ‘provisional twelths’ that would ensue if the Council and the Parliament are unable to agree before the end of the year.