Sad news in this morning’s Belgian newspapers of the death yesterday of Willy De Clercq, a well-known Liberal politician, but also a familiar figure in European politics, as a Commissioner and as a member of the European Parliament. I knew him, at a distance, as a member of the Commission but when he went to the Parliament (again) I got to know him quite well and I liked him a lot. He was President of the European Parliament’s External Relations Committee, which I was following as a representative of the European Commission’s Secretariat General. I remember the distinctive shock of white hair and the bow ties and the polyglot introductions and the mannerisms (‘Bonjour à toutes et à tous’) and, as the classic gamekeeper turned poacher, I remember Willy insisting politely that the Commission should share its negotiating mandates (with third countries) in a confidential manner with the EP, which turned me into a constant target. But I also remember the courtesy and the friendliness and the typically Belgian pragmatism and consensualism (if that word exists) and the constant Europeanism. Though belonging to different political families, he and the late Karel Van Miert were good examples of Belgium’s habit of producing internationally-respected statesmen. Unlike poor Karel (67), Willy died at a decent age (84), I suppose, but in both cases the world is indubitably the poorer for their passing.