In the early evening, at the end of the plenary session, the outgoing President presided over a ceremony in which each of the Committee’s outgoing members – just under a third – was individually awarded a diploma, a commemorative crystal paperweight and, as a gesture from Mario Sepi himself, a bottle of olive oil produced by the anti-mafia organisation, Libera (which received the EESC’s civil society prize in Palermo last year). It was a moment also for the Secretary General, a tear in his eye, to thank everybody and wish them well. This turnover of membership is a characteristic aspect of the Committee – its composition is thus ‘refreshed’ at the beginning of every new mandate – but as I shook hand after hand and bade the outgoing members farewell I realised just how much experience and expertise the Committee was losing. No doubt the new, incoming members will bring their own rich experience and expertise but the experience – it’s the first time for me, as Secretary General – reminded me of the way subjects of monarchies would once upon a time declare ‘The King is dead! Long live the King!’ (In the picture, Mario Sepi, himself an outgoing member, has just presented himself with his diploma! To his right is the Head of his Private Office, Andrea Pierucci, who is an old, near and dear friend.)