To a normal post plenary session Monday (Directors’ meeting discussions on follow-ups to Bureau and plenary sessions, etc) was added this afternoon the annual meeting of all EESC staff with the President, Staffan Nilsson, and myself, as SG, followed by a reception. The Committee’s tradition of relatively short presidential mandates (since the Lisbon Treaty, two-and-a-half years) is both a sadness and a pleasure. I joined the Committee in 2003 and so have already known five Presidents: Roger Briesch (a French Trade Unionist/Group II), Anne-Marie Sigmund (an Austrian lawyer/Group III), Dimitris Dimitriadis (a Greek businessman/Group I), Mario Sepi (an Italian trade unionist/Group II) and now Staffan Nilsson (a Swedish farmer/Group III). I have worked closely with them all and have greatly enjoyed the experience. Staffan has a wonderfully quirky sense of humour and at times this afternoon I felt like the straight man in a comic duo act. It is, as I am sure our audience understood, great fun as well as a special sort of privilege. For, as SG I sit at the right hand of people who bring the authenticity of their lives out there in the real world to ‘Brussels’. After Christmas, for example, Staffan (who probably won’t thank me for writing this) had a series of scars on his head because he had been mending his tractor and had kept banging his head on the bonnet as he stood up! When such a person talks to a Commissioner about reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (to take an obvious example), who can doubt that he knows what he is talking about?