Today, after an early morning meeting with my President, Staffan Nilsson, I marked the end of my fourth year as Secretary General by chairing my 160th regular Monday morning management board meeting. We looked back with pride and satisfaction on two busy and highly productive weeks for the Committee and forward to further activities that increasingly, as I see it, flesh out the Lisbon Treaty’s concept of structured dialogue with organised civil society. In particular, when the Committee’s guests from the other institutions visit its plenary session or the meetings of the specialised Sections and the CCMI it seems to me that they increasingly acknowledge the fact that they also require dialogue with, and support from, organised civil society. In that context I was particularly struck by an observation made by French senator and former minister Chantal Jouanno (picture) during the Committee’s ‘Step Up for a Stronger Europe’ conference last week. She argued that Europe would be built primarily not by political parties, because they are necessarily decisive, but by organised civil society, which is by its nature cohesive and consensual.