This morning I went, together with my President, Mario Sepi, to an annual reception offered at the Royal Palace by the Belgian King, Albert, to the Presidents, Vice-Presidents and High-Ranking Officials of all of the EU institutions. Albert was accompanied by Paola and Prince Philip. The Palace was, well, palatial. We gathered in the gilded and mirrored ballroom, lined up to shake the royal hands and then gathered again in the reception room for champagne and canapés. It was all done with dignity and style but not too much pomp – typically Belgian, somehow (and I mean that in a positive sense). During the reception the King spent a lot of time talking individually with the Parliament’s President, Jerzy Buzek, Herman Van Rompuy (they must know each other so very well!) and José Manuel Barroso. Constitutional monarchies are very special affairs, but the Belgian monarchy is more special than most, symbolically sitting not only in the capital of Belgium but also the ‘capital’ of Europe. One of the biggest thrills for me was to be standing in the room that Jan Fabre decorated with thousands of irridiscent beetle wings. It’s a beautiful piece of work.