This afternoon I chaired my last big meeting before the summer break. The European Economic and Social Committee’s members are elected for a mandate (previously of four years, from now on, under the Lisbon Treaty’s provisions, of five years). Towards the end of the mandate, the Member States’ governments make proposals for membership under the next mandate. In our parlance, the beginning of the new mandate is known as ‘renewal’. Last year the administration set up a task force to start preparations for the renewal process, which will take place this October. We now have most of the Member State lists of new members in, and so we know that ‘turnover’ will be between a quarter and a third of our membership. The guiding spirit of my mandate as Secretary General is ‘serving the members better’, and the guiding spirit of our renewal task force is ‘you never get a second chance to make a first impression’. This seventh meeting of the full task force went very well. Colleagues have excelled themselves in their efficiency and good will and it was a dream of a meeting to chair. I could not have imagined a more satisfying way of finishing before the summer break.