I had lunch today with an old friend, Hussein Kassim (picture), who is a distinguished professor of politics and head of school at the University of East Anglia. Hussein, who has written a lot about the European Union and its institutions has been leading a fascinating research project which has sought to find out more about the identity of European civil servants and, in particular, those working in the European Commission. Over several years he and a distinguished team of fellow academics have interviewed an impressively large number of Heads of Unit, Directors, Directors-General, cabinet members, political advisors and Commissioners in a quest to know more about their core beliefs, career paths and backgrounds. The fruit of this labour will be published by Oxford University Press in the autumn, but Hussein has been giving sneak previews to the Commission’s directors-general (and, over lunch, to this old friend). The fascinating findings scotch several myths and are generally, I found, reassuring. I won’t steal Hussein’s thunder but would just note that Jean Monnet would be happy!