At midday today I accompanied the EESC’s Vice-President with responsibility for budgetary affairs, Jacek Krawczyk, to the European Commission’s headquarters in the Berlaymont for a meeting with Janusz Lewandowski, the Commissioner with responsibility for budget and financial programming. We went to present the Committee’s draft budget for 2012, as adopted by the Bureau on 14 March, so it was a courtesy call of sorts. But there was of course a discussion during which the Commissioner described graphically the path he must carefully pick between what he knows is necessary and what he thinks will be possible. Tough times undoubtedly lie ahead. Not for the first time, I found myself wondering about the topsy-turvy world in which we live. It is a world in which the EU and its institutions which, by their nature, cannot run deficits, are having to make cuts – and this just a year after the Lisbon Treaty should logically have led to greater ambitions. It is a world in which member state governments are imposing austerity programmes and making swingeing cuts to public sectors, and where civil servants are losing their jobs. (Today’s Guardian newspaper ran a sobering six-page spread on ‘the true cost of the cuts’, detailing fifty clearly very worthy causes in the UK that will lose some or all of their support.) It is against such a backdrop that the EU’s future financing will now have to be negotiated and it is clearly going to be tough.