Part of the authenticity of the membership of the European Economic and Social Committee is derived from the fact that most members work for just a few mandates before handing over to fresh blood. On the logic of ‘once a member, always a member’, the Committee supports an Association of Former Members which meets twice a year. Today the Association met in the Committee’s headquarters and was addressed by a series of speakers, starting with EESC President Staffan Nilsson, on the theme of ‘How can Europe transition to an institutional and policy framework that provides for the combination of economic growth, jobs, sovereign debt containment and a robust financial services sector?’ As Secretary General I also had the pleasure and privilege of addressing the Association, to which former officials may also belong, on the subject of ‘Progress and Challenges’. As I told them, I am now in the fourth year of my mandate and so can indeed look back and see where progress was achieved, as well as forward to the challenges ahead. But my basic message was that the longer I have worked at the Committee the more I have become convinced of the unique authenticity of its members, volunteers for the cause, both feet firmly planted in the real world and, very politely, telling truth to power. In the picture, by the way, is former EESC President Alfons Margot who, at a spritely 90 years of age, honoured me with his presence.