The European Economic and Social Committee has six specialised Sections plus a Consultative Commission on Industrial Change. These are the Committee’s engine houses, where the consultative work, the drafting and debating of opinions before they go to the plenary session, gets done. Today I was kindly invited to a working lunch with the Section and CCMI Presidents. The agenda of each of these meetings revolves around the same basic theme; how can the Committee’s working methods be improved? Today the Presidents discussed the composition of study groups – small groups, generally of three, six or nine members, that prepare the basic drafts of the Committee’s more important opinions – and the challenge of meeting the three-month deadline that the European Parliament imposes when it asks the Committee for its opinion. With regard to the latter, the Presidents were pleased to note that the Committee generally gets its homework in on time. The challenge for all of the Union’s assemblies – if I can term the Parliament and the Committees collectively in that way – is the same; languages. Texts have to be available in the working languages of the participants and, ultimately, in all of the working languages, and that means that the translators have to be given the time to do their work. Through such meetings the Committee is constantly seeking to improve its performance so that as far as possible it delivers short, sharp and to the point opinions as early as possible.