To the Council’s Budgets Committee this afternoon to present and defend the Committee’s draft 2011 budget. It’s a difficult exercise for us. On what basis should we budget for officials’ salaries, for example? A Court ruling will determine whether or not the Council’s decision was correct. If it rules that it wasn’t, then back payments will have to be made. The payment of salaries is a legal obligation, not a matter of choice, so should we budget for such back payments in case? And what about the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty? We have tabled an amending budget for 2010 (as has the European Parliament and the Committee of Regions), but the budgetary authority has not yet taken any decision on this. We must be consistent with ourselves and assume that we will get all that we requested and budget for 2011 on that basis, but it means that there are, abnormally, two large elements of conditionality in the overall exercise. But over and beyond the technical discussions about what we should and what we must do, there is, to my mind, a worrying gap between the political and the administrative. Today’s exercise was administrative – a Secretary General and his staff in discussion with officials from Treasuries and permanent representations. But where are the political discussions? The answer is that there are none, and under the Lisbon Treaty’s new procedure the nearest smaller institutions will now get to the conciliation procedure that has replaced the old second reading stage is the right to submit their views in writing. As I told the delegations, this is like the concept in political science of cognitive dissonance. On the one hand, my President and political authorities are being urged by the likes of Buzek, Durant, Roubek, Barroso, Sefcovic, Reding, Van Rompuy and the Spanish Presidency (to mention just a few of our most recent visitors) to do more, particularly in the context of participatory democracy. On the other hand, the delegates to the budgets committee are telling me that we should spend less. OK, doing more doesn’t necessarily mean spending more. But our Committee has already made serious efforts to economise and redeploy existing resources and we already achieve synergies with other institutions wherever these are possible. That leaves us with two choices: do less (surely the opposite of the spirit of the Lisbon Treaty), or lower the quality of our work. As I wrote above, it’s a difficult exercise for us!