Somebody sent me the picture accompanying this post because they thought it was nice. I remember the moment well. The European Economic and Social Committee’s plenary sessions are generally squeezed into two half days. Exceptionally, this session, which had a particularly heavy agenda, was extended to three half days. There are almost always surprises, requiring rejigging of the agenda and thinking on our feet. Among the surprises this time were new security control measures at the entrance to the building, creating considerable delay, and a small fire in a fat fryer in the kitchen back in the Jacques Delors building. The Committee’s staff rose magnificently, as always, to the challenges. In the picture, the President and his Secretary General are debating how to handle several opinions so as to maximise the use of the interpreters without risking running out of time. If we were a national body, working in one language, there would be less pressure. But we can only work with the help of our brilliant interpreters, almost seventy of them providing us with coverage in twenty-two languages. Indeed, part of the difficult art of managing plenary sessions is to calculate how much of their time we will need and making sure that we stick to that, no matter what surprises pop up on the day.