Yesterday afternoon and evening we said goodbye to the European Economic and Social Committee’s Secretary General of the past ten years, Patrick Venturini. Earlier in the day, Patrick had ceremonially handed over to me the keys to a big safe where sensitive documents are kept. We both giggled at the false symbolism of the moment (in reality, the safe is very rarely used). I shall miss those self-deprecating moments when we shared a joke or a comic observation – often at the beginning or the end of a very long day. For the rest, we have been working so closely together for so long that, really, the transition was more like the smooth handing over of a baton in a relay race than a wholesale changing of the guard (I’d like to leave you with the subliminal image of me sprinting away!). As the incoming SG, I delivered a speech to all of the personnel (PDF to download) which was, as I told Patrick, as much from the heart as from the head. He will be a hard act to follow, but he did so very much and he leaves a great legacy.
Now, it is early, 07.30 a.m., on my first day in the new job, and I am determined that every day of my five year mandate will be a positive day in which, together with our members and colleagues, we achieve things together. ‘Don’t you have butterflies in the stomach?’ somebody asked me yesterday evening. The honest answer is that I don’t. I am raring to go and much looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and, in English colloquial parlance, getting ‘stuck in’. I hope you, the reader, will accompany me on this journey. It’s going to be interesting and, I hope, fun.