I spent the day in Paris, with the EESC’s ‘NAT’ Section. It was another bitter-sweet occasion: Maruja Sanchez’s last Section meeting in the chair. The hot topic was the CAP health check, with Michel Barnier attending in the afternoon. The Committee has a number of passionately committed members, including farmers and ecologists, and its traditional consensus-seeking mechanisms and traditions creak under the strain when it has to deal with such issues. Personally, having worked a lot with the EP, I find a dose of passionate debate healthy and attractive. Barnier sought to reassure members on that score: their amendments echoed what he had heard from national ministers in his marathon confessional with Ms Fischer-Boel. It underlined the authenticity of the Committee’s membership; drawn from the real world.