Tempering is a heat treatment technique used, particularly with steel, in order to toughen the metal. It has, notably, always been an integral part of swordmaking technique. Tempering is done by reheating the metal to just below its critical temperature. Among the positive effects of tempering the following can be noted: improved ductility and toughness; reduced cracking; and increased impact resistance. Today marks precisely the halfway point in my five year mandate as Secretary General of the European Economic and Social Committee.