A heavy week for the Committee at political level began with this afternoon’s Bureau meeting, where the main agenda item was a discussion of the European Commission’s 2011 work programme with its new Deputy Secretary General, Michel Servoz. As a consultative body, a lot of the Committee’s work is necessarily reactive, since most of the opinions it gives are in response to legislative proposals tabled by the European Commission. The purpose of such a discussion is obviously not to influence the Commission’s legislative intentions; the influence on those obviously has to come upstream of the drafting of the programme. Rather, the Committee’s Bureau members seek to influence the way in which the Commission will draft its legislation and the relative priorities that its departments choose to establish. The Bureau also decided to renew its cooperation with the International Association of Economic and Social Councils and Similar Institutions for a further year. As Jean Monnet once remarked, ‘nothing can be done without citizens but nothing can last without institutions.’ I find the gradual institutionalisation of organised civil society’s role at regional and international level such an interesting phenomenon that I have written an article about it, to be published in the next edition of the Fudan Journal of Human and Social Sciences. For civil society organisations it is in a sense about the eternal play off between authenticity and influence. I shall post a link once the article is out.