The European Economic and Social Committee is a venerable institution, one of five founder institutions in the Union (together with the Parliament, the Council, the Commission and the Court). Today the Committee’s Bureau, which first met in 1958, held its 600th meeting. It was mostly a pretty routine affair, preparing the work of the next two days’ plenary session. But it suddenly occurred to me, as I listened to the debates and thought about that 600 figure, that I am roughly the same age as the Committee (born, like the Committee itself, in 1957). It was a little strange to think that whilst I had been a wailing babe this very same organ had been similarly meeting, preparing the work of the Committee and of its plenary session. The same, of course, held true of the Union’s other most venerable institutions. I am fond of saying that the Union is ‘only’ a little over fifty years old but it has come an awful long way in that half century. Some of that achievement at least is down to the slow, patient, preparatory work of the Union’s institutions and bodies, quietly but effectively building Europe.