This morning I joined our Vice-President, Jacek Krawczyk, in greeting Mr Waldemar Pawlak, Polish deputy prime minister and minister for the economy. Pawlak, who went on to lunch with our President and then a press conference with Polish journalists before addressing the EESC’s plenary session, is a highly experienced minister who has among other things, twice been prime minister of his country. He had come to address the Committee at the start of the landmark first Polish presidency of the Council of the European Union. It is a powerfully symbolic moment for the new Europe and for Poland. Pawlak was particularly interested in the EESC’s composition (that is, the fact that it goes beyond the ‘social partners’) and in its consensus building working methods. During the Polish Presidency the Committee will be holding a lot of meetings of different sorts in Poland and Pawlak expressed the hope that, through such activities, the Committee could enrich Poland’s domestic debate about whether and how to move beyond the tripartite model of the Polish Commission for Social and Economic Questions.