This morning, continuing my series of meetings with the Committee’s various directorates, I met colleagues from the General Affairs Directorate. The catch-all title hides a multiplicity of vital tasks and roles for the committee, from the sessions office through protocol, archives, the Quaestors, relations with civil society and our liaison group, relations with the other institutions and the network of national economic and social councils, the legal service, and the conferences and interpretation unit. As the Director, Maria Echevarria, nicely put it, these are services like water and electricity. You only realise how much you rely upon them when they are no longer there. I told the colleagues that in all sincerity I am a lucky Secretary General, for the ‘machine’ not only works but works very well – even when there are sudden power cuts! The rubbish picture looks a bit inquisitorial but actually it was a very positive meeting.