I met a few new Committee officials individually today, as is my habit, to welcome them to the Committee and to the Union. One of these officials was an older Lithuanian lady who had studied in Vilnius in the 1970s and so had worked for almost two decades in Soviet-era Lithuania. She told me how she had chosen to study English at university because she wanted to know more about a world from which she was excluded. But her choice was greeted with some consternation by friends and family. What would she be able to do with such a language (as opposed to Russian)? Of course, once the Iron Curtain had fallen, her language ability was much in demand. It was a graphic reminder of how far we have come, and how fast. It is also a graphic reminder of how improbable the current geographic extent of the European Union would have seemed even as late as the 1990s.