In what has been something of a budgetary day, this afternoon’s meeting of the Bureau of the European Economic and Social Committee unanimously adopted the Committee’s draft 2013 budget. This was in addition to the usual pre-plenary session preparatory work. I think the Committee can be proud of the result. For the second year running the Committee has – in a fine consensual and collegial fashion -adopted a budget which, at 1.9% (the predicted rate of inflation), is effectively zero-growth. To adopt a modest budget is, of course, the only right way to behave in the current climate of austerity and public spending cuts, but it is not easy to achieve and can result in unintended consequences, particularly because we have to use an estimate about the inflation rate which may ultimately be out by several percentage points. This is particularly important in relation to our rental payments, which are index-linked. Last year, for example, we respected a predicted rate of inflation around 2% for the draft 2012 budget which, for the Belgian rental market, turned out to be nearer 4%. As a consequence, we (both Committees, since buildings are part of our ‘Joint Services’) are having to find additional economies within our existing 2012 budget to make sure that we respect our legal obligations. The problem is in large part caused by the fact that we have to undertake the planning exercise so far out from the year in question. Coming back to the 2013 exercise, though, all credit is due to the Chairman of the Budget Group, Vice-President Jacek Krawczyk (Poland, Employers’ Group) and the Committee’s rapporteur for the 2013 budget drafting exercise, Madi Sharma (UK, Employers’ Group).