Today I hosted one of my occasional working lunches with all of the EESC’s female managers. I wanted to know how they saw the possible consequences of the reform package that was tabled earlier this year by the European Commission. The Committee is, in comparative terms, a tiny institution and since the 2004 reforms has had to compete, together with all the other smaller institutions, to recruit the ‘brightest and the best’ from what is, in effect, a single pool of candidates. Arguably, this is a relatively more important imperative for a smaller institution, since one unsuccessful (management) appointment may block a key position for a long time. One way of competing is to provide attractive working conditions. Since the Committee is in any case both economic and social it has always sought to provide the best possible working conditions for its staff. Hence today’s wide-ranging and frank discussions.