Julien Frisch quite rightly took me to task yesterday for using the word ‘important’ too lightly. His simple point: the more the word is used, the less important the issues will appear to be. It’s a fair cop. The problem is that I am consciously writing for two audiences. One is the world ‘out there’. the other, though, is the world in here, in the European Economic and Social Committee. What I was writing about – the new President’s set-piece debate around his work programme – was undoubtedly very important for the Committee, and that is what I meant, I suppose. It’s always a little invidious to single out one speaker in a high quality debate, but I found Professor Maria Joao Rodrigues’s remarks particularly incisive. As one of the founding figures of the EU’s Lisbon Strategy, she knows better than most that, as she put it ‘the EU’s model is not sustainable unless its international partners move in the same direction.’ Hence also, I would argue, the importance of the EESC’s external activities; arguing the case for strong and healthy civil society organisations to support strong and healthy democracies. There – I’ve used the word ‘importance’ again! Sorry, Julien.