This morning the Committee and more specifically its external relations section has welcomed Pierre Vimont, the first and current Secretary-General of the European External Action Service (EEAS). After an amicable and productive ‘bilateral’ meeting with the President of the external relations section, Sandy Boyle (UK/Employees Group), Vimont addressed the sections’ members, first explaining the physiology of the EEAS, which is still a work under construction and which is a composite 3,600-strong administration of Commission, Council and Member State officials but not a new institution and which has only partial budgetary autonomy (for administrative expenditure). As a fellow Secretary-General, listening in to his description, I am deeply impressed at how well-functioning order has already been brought out of such challenging complexity. The EEAS is one of the major innovations in the Lisbon Treaty and its growing success, particularly away from the headlines, represents a wonderful example of Europeans’ ingenius ability to get on ever better with themselves and with the world around them. In that context Vimont addressed the burning issues south and east of the Union, where civil society organisations and civil society more generally are playing such important driving roles. The EESC, with its structured dialogues with civil society organisations and institutions, where those exist, is well-placed to play a supporting role and Vimont indeed confirmed the value of the EESC’s contribution and his willingness to work closely with it.