MidiThis morning I was happy to say a few welcoming words at a meeting of a French civil society organisation, the IRCEM Group, which is a non-profit-making organisation working on social protection and social security issues. I welcomed them to the EESC’s headquarters Jacques Delors building and brandished a copy of Jean Monnet’s memoirs, reminding them that it was in some part thanks to Monnet that the French vision of a consultative body representing civil society organisations had been reproduced at European level. It was substitute member and former colleague Jean Lapeyre who had brought the organisation to the house of civil society (as we sometimes refer to our building). Then, at lunchtime, thanks to Spanish EESC member Miguel Angel Cabra De Luna (Various Interests Group), I attended a lunch meeting of Spanish charity organisation, ONCE. Founded in 1938, ONCE organises lotteries to fund public works by and for blind people. A foundation has existed since 1988. The assembled guests heard from Miguel Carballeda Pineiro, the President of ONCE and of its Foundation, about the organisation’s good works and the challenges it faces. Both IRCEM and ONCE are examples of flourishing civil society organisations, of Europe’s civic fabric. The ONCE lunch took place at the top of a hotel sporting spectacular views, as my picture shows.