This evening I was the guest at an event organised by my father-in-law, Jacques Vandamme, at the Belgian Fondation Universitaire, to celebrate my appointment as EESC Secretary General. The event was designed to bring together representatives of Belgian politics and civil society organisations as well as Belgian friends more generally. It was a lovely evening. My father-in-law belonged to the first, pioneering generation of EU civil servants (you can read about him in this book), and among the guests were a number of his contemporaries. Their names probably don’t trip off the tongue any more, but people like Jacques-Réné Rabier (who created Eurobarometre) and Jacqueline Lastenouse (who created the Jean Monnet chairs programme) are among the unsung heros and heroines of the European construction process. Thinking back to David Bearfield’s presentation (8 December post), those who forwent a national career as a diplomat or civil servant in the early 1960s in order to join the European institutions were taking a big risk, since nobody could be certain that things would work out well. But, then, since they had known the war, they were determined that things would have to work out well. In the picture is my father-in-law and EESC President Mario Sepi, who kindly said a few words.