After a heavy but productive Bureau meeting yesterday, it was on to the plenary session today, the last of the year. The highlight of this afternoon was the visit of Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Joëlle Milquet to present the balance sheet of the Belgian Presidency of the Council on employment, social policy and equal opportunities issues. Milquet quipped at the beginning that the key to a successful Presidency is the absence of a government at home but, as her detailed exposé then went on to prove, the true key to a successful Presidency is commitment and an understanding of the European Union’s decision-making processes – and Belgium has always had much of both. Two aspects of Milquet’s analysis interested me particularly. The first was her positive evaluation of the ‘trio’ mechanism for rotating presidencies. The importance of the traditional rotating presidency was supposed to have been diminished by the Lisbon Treaty’s innovations but, paradoxically, the reverse appears to have happened. The second was her insistence on a positive attitude towards immigration. Sensitive though the issue may be in a time of crisis, demography alone argues for such a positive case. A little ‘human’ observation of my own. As the Deputy Prime Minister spoke, her hands occasionally fluttered up, revealing a streak of white paint on the underside of her little finger – you know, the one place you miss when you are scrubbing your hands after a bit of home decorating….