This morning I attended a meeting of the administrative board of the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO). As it’s Director, David Bearfield, explained, it is currently undergoing an ‘upside down and inside out’ reform process, with the full backing of all of the European Union’s institutions. The scale of the challenge it faces is massive and it is crucial for the EU and its institutions that the reform process should succeed fully. Happily, Bearfield was able to report ‘considerable progress on a broad front’. The figures he cited are dauntingly impressive. For example, in 2008 EPSO organised no less than 92 open competitions involving 70,000 applicants and producing 2000 laureats. One of the points on our agenda was a report on open competitions for linguists. An impressive transparency (I’ll try and get hold of a copy and post it) demonstrated the sheer weight of language provision in the administrations of all of the EU’s institutions, from the largest to the smallest. The total number of colleagues working in languages at administrator or assistant level is around 8,000. Putting that the other way around, though, when you think that there are 23 working languages, and that the figure includes interpreters and translators, you could argue that the number is impressively small.