When, during the Delors years, I was in the European Commission’s Secretariat General  there was a recurring debate within the Commission about its relationship with national parliaments. At one stage, Delors wanted to nominate a Commission member with specific responsibility for relations with national parliaments, but he was soon convinced otherwise. The constant refrain we heard at the time was that the European Commission could only deal with ‘European level’ institutions – in other words, the European Parliament and the Council. To deal with national parliaments would be to interfere in national politics, so the argument went. It’s all water under the bridge now. The role of national parliaments is already enshrined in the Treaties but would be consolidated by the Lisbon Treaty’s implementation. I write all of this because today I was visited by Evelyne Pichenot, a member of the EESC but also of the French Economic, Environmental and Social Council. She is currently drafting an opinion for the French Council about the EU’s consultative process. She wants to stress the importance of proper and structured consultation of civil society organisations. She thinks that maybe national economic and social councils could also be involved in European Union-level consultative processes via the European Economic and Social Committee. I think you’ll see the parallel. All too frequently there is a fallacious distinction between the ‘European’ and the ‘national’. In reality, it’s all one seamless whole.