The President of our sister consultative committee, the Committee of the Regions, spoke to our plenary session this afternoon. Mercedes Bresso, like our own President, Staffan Nilsson, spoke first about the excellent cooperation between the two Committees at administrative level. Our ‘joint services’ are a shining example for the other institutions about how to realise synergies and economies of scale. She then shifted to the political level and addressed the major challenge facing us all at the moment; how to achieve a job-rich recovery from the economic and financial crisis. She stressed in this context the vital role that local and regional authorities play. In the ensuing debate, over and above the discussions about the economic re-launch and the role of local authorities (as major spenders), two strong themes came across. The first was that the EU is ‘not a cost, but a means’ (Henri Malosse, President of the Employers’ Group) and that we must all fight to reverse the terms of the debate; what, in other words, is the cost of ‘non-Europe’? In a sense, it could be argued that the cooperation agreement between the two Committees is a small-scale example of this. Such cooperation requires finely-tuned governance mechanisms and political goodwill but, in terms of the advantages it brings, makes obvious good sense. The second is that, at a political level, the Committees could, and should, do more together in addressing common themes and challenges. The evident cooperative spirit of both Presidents this afternoon augurs well for such cooperation. For a taste of that spirit, you might want to visit Staffan Nilsson’s ‘comment’ page here.