On 19th February I delivered the closing speech at one of the Committee’s regular ‘newcomers’ seminars’. We organise these twice a year to welcome all of the new staff who have arrived and to explain to them about the Committee and its administration. These seminars are good fun and provide the President and the Secretary General with an excellent opportunity to make a good first impression. Afterwards, in the Q & A session, somebody asked me where, out of all of the EU institutions, I would rather be. I unhesitatingly replied that the EESC had by far the best atmosphere and working conditions and obviously I was happy to be SG but… First, I would have given my eyeteeth to have been in the European Parliament back in its revolutionary days after the first direct elections. Second, I will always be proud of the work I was privileged to undertake in DG Education and Culture at the European Commission. I was reminded of this today because this week’s edition of the Commission’s inhouse newsletter, Commission en direct, carries a full page article about ‘my baby’, Erasmus Mundus. Of course, I wasn’t alone in bringing Erasmus Mundus into the world. The roll call of honour must include above all the Commissioner, Vivianne Reding and the Parliament’s rapporteur, Marielle De Sarnez, but also the (as always) unsung heroes in the Danish and Italian Presidencies who helped push ‘from the other side’, Sandro Gozi in then President Prodi’s cabinet (now an Italian MP), Greg Paulger (then the Head of Reding’s Private Office), the Director General, Klaus van der Pas, the Director, David Coyne, and my deputy Head of Unit at the time, Augusto Gonzalez, who more than anybody else held the plume and jiggled with the Excel sheets. Just listing those names shows what a genuinely European process it was. And now the second generation of Erasmus Mundus is getting under way. We had always known it would prosper and I am sure we all look upon it as a proud parent would when a child grows into handsome maturity. Through Erasmus Mundus over 6,000 students and over 1000 professors from third countries have so far come to EU universities, thus encouraging mutual understanding and academic excellence. Of one thing I am sure; when I am on my deathbed Erasmus Mundus, like the Fulbright Programme, will still be flourishing and still growing. We did that!