Yesterday evening and this morning I attended the Budgets Committee of the European Parliament. The Committee was voting on the first reading amendments to the 2010 budget. I went just in case there were questions (one never knows) and out of respect for this arm of the budgetary authority. But I must say it is also a pleasure to return to my old stamping ground and an institution for which I’ll always have a soft spot as well as much academic interest. In the end, a series of helpful amendments, tabled by the rapporteur, Mr Manka, went through with a very large majority. Equally, a series of unhelpful amendments, not tabled by the rapporteur (let’s just leave it at that) were rejected by the same very large majority. All-in-all, it was a good result for the Committee. But it was an enjoyable experience for more than that reason. Alain Lamassoure, the chairman of the CoBu (the Committee’s French acronym) is a really fun chairman to watch at work. He is witty, professional, good-natured and efficient, all at the same time. A good chairman changes the whole atmosphere of such Committees which, because of the nature of their work, can seem very technocratic. His website is here, by-the-way.