It was a let down to arrive in the dreary apology for a station in Brussels . But we must not be sniffy . Belgium has only existed since 1830. Not much to it really , though Im sure it was a happening place under the Austro - Hungarians. I arrive for a Euclid Board meeting. Euclid is the new European third sector leaders network that acevo has set up with our partners in France and Sweden . It is based on the simple proposition that leaders need to develop leadership skills and share and support each other , and such support should not stop at hte national boundary . We are at nearly 500 members across 18 countries.
We are having our first Annual General Meeting at the European Parliament. I have been appointed as the founding Secretary - General . We announce the election of the first President Thierry Weishaut from France . This is an historic occassion . A new force for change in Europe. Building a Europe for people , not institutions. Developing the leadership talent of civil society . In my opening address I talk about the early days of acevo some 20 years ago . Small beginnings and when we celebrated our 20th Anniversary we had a reception at No 10 with the Prime Minister lauding the achievements and the role acevo now plays in leading the sector. I suggest that I will be back with euclid for their 20 th anniversary in 2028 to celebrate similar triumphs...( me and my carer that is ! )
We have plans for a range of events and are helping develop leaders in countries in Central Eastern Europe . We have been awarded a contract from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to build leadership in Montenegro , Kosovo and Albania. We are holding conferences in Paris and Slovenia. i have 2 exceptional and talented staff members working on our plans ; the irrepressible and Italian Filippo Addari and the guy who makes sure the detail is sorted , the quiet but impressive Ben Rattenbury. One of my Board members at the event asks me how do I manage to recruit such talent . More importantly, how do I keep them !
So have you joined ? Go to the aecvo website or the euclid website for more details. http://www.euclidnetwork.eu/
But before the Board meeting on Monday evening I have an hour to spare and I go and sit at a cafe in La Grand Place ;the one place in Brussels that makes you feel that Belgium is worthwhile. A cooling beer and coffee , sitting in the sun . I sit and stare . A rare moment of untrammeled peace. No phone calls . Blackberry in my pocket.
And our Board meeting takes place over dinner at a great Brussels restaurant. Belgo Belga. The griddled fillet steak and the Alsace Red makes the pain of a discussion on amendments to our Mem and Arts seem relatively painless. My Chair , John Low is our Board representative and he displays a real flair for pan European discussion ; explaining the nuances of "restricted funding " to a bemused Frenchman .
My major article in " Third Sector " appears today . I am suggesting the sector needs to face the challenge of economic recession and grasp the opportunities of the unprecedented interest in out growing sector. That means we need to consider the advantage of scale. Mergers. Alliances and consortia. I float the idea of a major Social Investment and Development Bank . I suggest the national umbrellas also must embrace change and perhaps develop a " Third Sector House".And in time perhaps we'll have a G7 for the sector ? Those at the top of the sector's senior bodies must be thought leaders .
How will this go down I wonder.?We will see at the acevo Chief Executive Summit tomorrow.