Today marks the twentieth anniversary of German unification – a far more significant date than my own little anniversary. In my own modest way, as an underling in the Commission’s secretariat general following the work of the European Parliament’s ad hoc committee and reporting to the Commission’s task force, I had the immense privilege of working on this file and thus had a ringside seat. And I have a piece of the wall enclosed in a perspex box engraved with an image of the Reichstag – a thank you gift from the German government – to prove it. For the anoraks and institutionalists, the history included all sorts of ‘firsts’ in terms of legislative procedures (two readings of implementing legislation in one week, thousands of amendments, shuttle diplomacy in parallel with shuttle legislation between Brussels, Strasbourg, Bonn and Paris, etc). I even wrote an academic article about it all (‘The Community Express Service: The Rapid Passage of Emergency Legislation on German Unification’, Common Market Law Review, 28, 1991). But my overriding impression was of an unstoppable force. It was as though a dam had been breached. Problems were simply washed away. We technocrats and bureaucrats (a small gang, now dispersed to Dublin, Geneva, and other points of the compass) knew that there was a greater cause. As one old Council hand put it to me, this was a powerful example of political will. It was also truly history in the making and I, among others, had the immense privilege to witness it.