This evening the EESC’s Bureau debated and then unanimously adopted its draft budget for 2012. If I have been less active on this blog of late it is primarily because I have been heavily involved in helping to broker solutions across the board: between the Committee’s Groups; between the Budget Group and the Bureau; and between the political authorities and the administration. The result, a projected overall increase of 1.5% (and no fresh human resources), would be lower than the forecast rate of inflation (2.0% or more) and so would represent a reduction in real terms. The lead was set by the Vice-President with responsibility for budgetary matters, Jacek Krawczyk (Polish, Employers’ Group), who argued passionately that, in such a time of economic and social crises and austerity in the member states, the Committee had to be modest and reasonable in its expectations. My part in all of this was to chair directors’ meetings and star chambers and act as a go-between but I have to say that it was not a disagreeable task, in the sense that there was a great deal of collegiality and solidarity abroad in the Committee, from the staff committee up to the President himself. We are all conscious that this is only the beginning of the process. The next step will be a first presentation and defence of the draft before the Council’s budget group on 22 May.