Yesterday was filled with just two long meetings. Today, on the other hand, was a much more varied affair. In the morning we had a short coordination meeting with our President, Mario Sepi, who wishes to use the time created by next year’s electoral hiatus (the European Parliament elections will take place in June) in order to galavanise the Committee into adopting a set of own-initiative opinions that will set out the EESC’s vision of future priorities and questions from the point of view of organised civil society. It is an excellent idea and will, I am sure, generate much interest. Later, I had lunch with a Romanian Committee member, Marius Opran. He is one of our more active members and a great expert on the aeronautics and defence industries. During the day I also met with an Italian Professor, Umberto Triulzi, from the Sapienza University (Rome) and Ana Aguardo, the Brussels-based representative of the European University Institute , and later was interviewed by a journalist for the European Parliament’s newsletter. But the icing on the cake came in the early evening, when the President and I hosted a reception for all new officials and those retiring. It is a tradition in the Committee for the Secretary General to say a few words about each retiring official before the President hands them a commemorative platter and a certificate. I always find it an immensely touching moment. Some of our retiring officials had worked for 37 years. I imagine myself in their place and realise both what a massive commitment this represents and the huge step they are taking.