I spent a lot of last night preparing a speech I gave at midday today to a group of guests of the Brussels Region’s Economic and Social Council. My chosen theme (guess!) was fleshing out the Lisbon Treaty’s provisions on participatory democracy. There was a good turnout and a lot of very good questions. Of course, Brussels has to put up with ‘Brussels’, and so quite a few of the questions related to the way in which the EU’s institutions co-exist in the urban fabric of this small but vibrantly cosmopolitan city. Things are getting better, it was generally acknowledged, but the EU’s organic evolution and the very late decision on the definitive seats of the various institutions has meant that, alas, there can be no shining city upon a hill. As I have written in previous posts, I believe all EU officials should get ‘out there’ whenever they can to explain to the ‘real world’ what it is they are doing and why. I certainly valued today’s exchange and am very grateful to the Brussels Region’s Economic and Social Council for so generously providing me with a platform and such an interesting and informative audience.