Third year as SG over already!

It is difficult to believe but today marks the beginning of my fourth year as Secretary General of the European Economic and Social Committee. Just this past week a friend asked me if I was still enjoying the job and my reply was very much in the affirmative. It’s the people – the Committee’s members and its staff – that make the job enjoyable. Of course, some aspects of the work are necessarily routine: the organic cycle of Section meetings, Enlarged Presidency Meetings, Bureau meetings and plenary sessions being the most obvious example. There are longer cycles: the two-and-a-half years of each Presidency, for example, and the five years of each full mandate. But even within these cyclical, rhythmic structures there are always challenges and surprises to keep the SG on his toes. My first years have been characterised by budgetary reform, getting the establishment plan sorted and directors recruited, welcoming new members at the beginning of the 2010 mandate, making sure that the Committee was equipped to deal with the now implemented Lisbon Treaty and accompanying successive Presidents Mario Sepi and Staffan Nilsson in realising their ambitions and implementing their work programmes. In a sense the Committee has been in a (successful) quest to gain (modest) increases in resources so that it could do the more that was expected of it by the Lisbon Treaty. The next period promises to be challenging in a different way. If the Commission’s reform package goes through, there will be reductions in the work force. Priorities will have to be identified and choices will have to be made. At the same time, we’ll be welcoming the twenty-eighth member state (and twenty-third language) of the Union.


  1. Hugo Kijne

    How many years can you be in the SG position, or is there no term limit?

  2. Martin

    I was appointed for five years renewable, Hugo. But in general there are no hard and fast rules. The original secretaries-general of the institutions stayed for ages (Emile Noel stayed at the Commission for twenty-seven years!) but the rule of thumb now seems to be around ten.

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