I am in The Hague today, at the annual meeting of the Secretaries-General of European Union economic and social councils and similar institutions. We are being elegantly and generously hosted by the Dutch Social and Economic Council and, in particular, by its Chairman, Alexander Rinnooy Kan, and its Secretary General, Véronique Timmerhuis. The theme of the two-day conference is the future of social dialogue in ‘a more diverse and polarised environment’ and of the roles of the economic and social councils. The keynote speaker this afternoon was Jelle Visser, professor at the University ofAmsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies. Now, it just so happens that Jelle is a very old friend (that’s him, together with Véronique, in the picture) – thirty years old, to be precise. He and I were direct contemporaries at the European University Institute in Florence, researchers in the political and social sciences department (1981-84). I lived in Fiesole, Jelle in Compiobbi, and there was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing in Jelle’s battered mini estate. In those days, getting a lift from Jelle was a mixed blessing, since the engine tended to conk out and the only way to re-start it was to get out and push. I did an awful lot of pushing. I have been reminiscing on Facebook recently with another mutual friend, Hugo (now of New York), who used to bring fresh spring herring down to Florence from Amsterdam on the night train, the pot squeezed into the couchette attendant’s mini-fridge. How delicious they always tasted! Happy days!