On the evening of 3 August 1914 Edward Grey, then the British Foreign Secretary, stood at the window of his office in the Foreign Office. Below, a lamplighter was lighting the street lamps in Whitehall. Grey had earlier made a long speech in the House of Commons and had then helped the Prime Minister to draft an ultimatum about what would happen if Belgium were to be invaded. Grey turned to a friend and said ‘The lamps are going out all over Europe. We shall not see them lit again in our time.’ There is a passage somewhere in Jean Monnet’s Memoirs where he recalls, as first President of the European Coal and Steel Community, watching the lights going out as Luxemburgers went to bed early, little realising the momentous European future that Monnet and his fellow revolutionaries were building, working late into the night. There is a surreal sense of calm in Brussels at the moment. The beautiful weather adds to a sense that all must be well. The crowds of young things spill out onto the pavement outside Kitty O’Shea’s and the bars on the Place Luxembourg bustle as they always do. And yet the helicopter hovering over the Justus Lipsius building tells a different story. When it comes to matters European, I remain an incurable optimist. As Monnet put it himself, the future Europe will be the sum of its responses to crises.