I have to say that is not without some relief that I have left the country and come to Brussels for a grading meeting for the European Research Council. I know that I have banged on before about how great the ERC is, but this year -- after having just received a good deal of hate mail about the "uselessness" (that's putting it the most politely) of closer links with Europe -- it seemed all the more loaded. The fact is that the ERC is putting vast amounts of money into European research (almost €2 billion in the scheme I am working with at the monent). When you take into account all the other well funded schemes they operate, this makes Europe one of the big players in world research funding, certainly rivalling any governmental strands in the USA. More parochially, the UK gets at least its fair share of that cash -- all sorts of our research, from particle physics to Classics, are heavily dependent on euro-money.
But I am more interested here in the personal side -- because these meetings in Brussels always remind me how much academic life has change for me and most of my university colleagues since we became a bigger part of Europe.