Morna Robillard, Susan Leech O'Neale, William Blair, Susan Maio, Michel Baboulaz, David Jacobs
Photo credits, tables: CERN, ESO, PFGB, CHIS
The editorial staff is in no way responsible for the texts, drawings, graphics and photos published. The sole responsibilty lies with the authors. All elements constituting this publication are the property of GAC-EPA and cannot be used without the express written authorization of the publisher.
The end: There’s an end to my term of office as President of the GAC-EPA (I won’t mention it this time round). There’s the end of life for everyone (I learnt at our AGM that at 73.7 yrs old, I still have 15.8 years of life expectancy). Or again, the end of the Organizations and Institutions (for CERN and ESO it’s not there yet: new projects are coming up).
That doesn’t mean though that we should not have a little foresight. As our colleague, Jörg Schmid, invited us all to reflect on what can happen in life in the last edition of our Bulletin. It’s worth reading (again) as it could help avoid concern for yourself and your loved ones.
As far as our Organizations are concerned there is no sign, neither in the short- nor the mid-term of dissolution. (You’d need a crystal ball to see anything long-term).
Recent events, however, considered unthinkable not so long ago, remind us that it is worth having foresight (e.g. Brexit). Hence, it is good news that our efforts have met with success to renew the activities of the subgroup of the Standing Concertation Committee for the guarantee of our social protection in the case of dissolution of the Organization.
There’s work to be done with your support and solutions to be found so that pensions and health insurance cover continue, should the case arise. And what about that circle? It reminds us of everlasting new beginnings. Just like spring delights us with her multitude of colourful flowers.
I wish you all a fine summer with pleasant temperatures and warm friendships.
Your attention please :
Pity! Please take care of our treasurer by taking into account that the annual fee is CHF30 since 2014.
After the Brexit vote many of us wondered about the future; the French elections added to these worries when the two challengers for the second round of voting were revealed as I write this editorial. The period preceding these two events made us think about what tomorrow would be like.
Today many questions are being asked by our fellow citizens, CERN retirees of course, but also the Organization itself and its contributors. This period of questioning will continue during the forthcoming elections in other European countries and there may be other surprises.
For the first time the range of subjects being thought about by the Europeans concerned has widened to questions of the environment, the future of our social models, the economic management of the Community, the survival of species (including our own), and the effects of our runaway industrial activity. The destruction of our planet has even been evoked. In addition to all this, inequality has become such that people are questioning what the future holds for them, their children, and their grandchildren. People are rethinking the models of European societies.
CERN cannot be outside these preoccupations. Its Management will have to worry not just about the political future of Europe, the rise of emerging economies, the financing of the Organization, but will also have to take into account the new economic, social, and environmental forces that will no doubt arise. A major factor must be considered: our planet’s resources being limited, if we continue to dig into its finite reserves we are heading for disaster unless we change our behaviour.
The depletion of resources will darken the social future of those who produce wealth. Inevitably, those who manufacture, those who are left behind economically and socially, or become the hopeless ones of the immigration seas will not fail to react. War is already here, even on our streets. We can no longer use the distance of our TV screens to remain observers.
But many new ideas are emerging. They will continue to emerge if a calm atmosphere returns. We need to put them into practice to turn things around. CERN can and must play a major role provided that its Management can escape from the dominating mercantile and liberal forces that some are trying to force on it.
CERN has shown its enormous contribution to the daily lives of people on this planet, the web is only the emerging part of the iceberg. I hope that CERN will continue its research with enthusiasm and that its current participants will be regarded with the same esteem as in the past. A researcher needs time and serenity to make discoveries, not being pushed along and exhausted. Careful thought and reflection require time.
Your attention please:
We are no longer looking for the Bulletin 1. Many thanks.
In the last Bulletin I mentioned that I had written to the ESO DG requesting a change in the way Article 20 of the ESO Healthcare agreement is applied to retired staff. In the past, this has led to the threshold for 100% reimbursement of medical costs being 40% higher than for active staff. The matter has been discussed in the ESO Administration and I have heard unofficially that in 2017 the threshold will be based on 20% of the maximum monthly pension and not on 20% of the so-called CERN Reference Salary. Strangely, this new interpretation will only be applied to beneficiaries of the CERN Pension Fund and not to the 10 or so retirees that are not beneficiaries. This point needs to be clarified further with the ESO Administration.
Health Working Group:
Due to various circumstances, including the extended sick leave of the Chairman, there has been no meeting of the ESO Health Working Group since the last Bulletin was issued. The Chairman has recently announced that he will organise the next meeting early in May.
ESO Staff Association
The situation with the ESO Staff Association has not changed significantly since the last Bulletin. The proposed ‘Recognition Agreement’ is still not agreed by the management and there is little sign that the ESO DG is willing to make any significant concessions on this. Nevertheless, the head of ESO HR has recently been working on an implementation plan for the points already agreed. She recently offered to present her draft proposal to the staff, but this presentation was vetoed by the Head of Administration. This seems to be a strange way to improve relations with the staff! The main working group is somewhat divided as to whether sufficient progress has already been made to propose to the election of a new staff committee so that it will be in place when the new ESO DG takes office in September. As mentioned previously, this rather drawn-out process has delayed the adoption of the new Staff Association Statutes that would integrate ESO pensioners into the Association in the same way as in the CERN Staff Association Statues.
Once again we had the opportunity to meet with some old colleagues at a New Year get-together that was held in January in Garching.
News in brief and activities of the Committee — (November 2016 to May 2017)
This Bulletin article, reporting on the major work of the GAC-EPA Committee, is under the responsibility of your Secretary who was re-elected for 2 years in November 2016 with a modest score of 60%, (many politicians would be envious); I thank the members of the Association for having renewed their confidence in me and allowing me to continue with the work started in 2009.
Here is a short overview of the activities of the Committee over the past few months.
Additional information can be obtained from the secretariat.
Results of the 2016 elections, composition of the new Committee and attribution of functions
The current Committee has been in place since 3 February 2017. It comes out of the elections held at the end of November 2016 to renew 9 elected members whose mandates were coming to an end on 31 December 2016. We had to elect 9 members.
As mentioned in the previous Bulletin, after the call for candidates in August 2016, 12 candidates presented themselves of which 9 whose mandates were coming to an end (8 elected, 1 co-opted) and 3 new candidates.
The counting of votes took place on 28 November 2016; 7 departing candidates and 2 new candidates were elected. The result of this election was as follows:
LEECH O NEALE
At its meeting on 2 December 2016 the Committee took note of these results and proceeded to the assignment of functions: as a result all the members of the Committee, already in place or re-elected, kept their functions as in 2016
However, Jean-Claude Gouache resigned as delegate to the Staff Council of the Staff Association and is replaced in this function by the newly elected Marcel Aymon, who will also participate in the Social Security Commission; in addition Claude Genier will be the substitute for the Legal Commission and Michel Goossens, newly elected, will be the representative on the Pensions Commission and also substitute on the Working Group on the Guarantee of Pensions. In addition, at its meeting on 3 February 2017, the Committee decided to call upon Susan Leech O’Neale as invited member; she will help with English language tasks and also help our informatics expert, who is also an invited member.
You can see the composition of the Committee and the attribution of functions in the structure chart.
As of 3 February 2017 the Committee is composed of 21 elected members, one co-opted member and two invited members.
Since the mandate of one of the two auditors was coming to an end, we also had to elect an auditor at these elections; 3 new candidates stood for election, the outgoing candidate (Ernst Radermacher) did not stand.
The result of the vote is as follows:
Ernst Radermacher was in charge of the accounts for 2016 along with Adrianus Van Praag (whose mandate terminates at the end of 2017).
Participation of members in the 2016 elections:
valid voting papers:
spoiled voting papers:
Unfortunately the percentage of voters is still low (29%), even if it is higher than in 2015 (23%).
The Committee hopes that the slightly higher percentage of voters will continue in the next elections.
GAC-EPA Annual General Meeting (AGM)
The AGM took place on 24 March 2017 following the invitation sent to members on 20 February 2017 accompanied by an agenda and a proxy vote form.
The Minutes of the 2017 AGM have been sent to you together with the present Bulletin. We invite you to refer to the attached Minutes for further information about the topics presented at the AGM.
Reminder: Please retain these Minutes which we shall be asking you to approve at the next AGM at the end of March 2018 (date not yet fixed).
Many of you participated in the drink that followed the AGM.
Relations with the CERN and ESO Staff Associations (SA)
For the moment the GAC-EPA is represented in many CERN Commissions such as :
The Standing Concertation Committee (CCP)
The Tripartite Employment Forum (TREF)
only via the intermediary of the SA delegates who transmit our point of view and our positions on subjects concerning us; we can express ourselves directly in the Staff Council and in the SA Commissions where we are present as follows:
Staff Council: 7 delegates
Pensions Commission: 7 representatives
Social Security Commission: 3 representatives
Health and Safety Commission: 1 representative
Legal Commission: 1 representative and 1 replacement
Mutual Aid Fund: 1 representative and 1 replacement
One service of the SA is indispensable to our activities, namely the secretariat and of course the team of secretaries who make it up. We use the secretariat during the year to help us out.
Reservation of rooms for our meetings.
Reserving the Auditorium for our AGM.
Do we need to record and broadcast a Webcast for example.
Do we need to use the CERN printshop.
Do we need to put an article in the SA Echo bulletin.
It is the dedicated SA secretaries who help us with all these tasks. We are extremely grateful to them and here say a big « Thank you ».
4. Relations with the CERN Administration
To help you with access to the CERN sites please take heed of the following reminder.
In order to avoid difficulties in accessing the CERN sites, check the validity of your (and, if relevant, your spouse’s) personal access card and check that your car has been registered. The formalities for this are made at Building 55, upon presentation of identity papers and the car papers.
All persons coming on to the CERN sites on foot or with a vehicle must be in possession of a personal and valid access card.
For several months now access to the sites by car has been facilitated by the automatic reading of number plates at the gates. Since January 2017 you no longer need a car sticker. We informed you about this as soon as we knew of it via the GAC-EPA website with the following message (in French).
Le président du GAC-EPA communique: “Selon nos informations, vous pouvez continuer à utiliser en 2017 la voiture pour laquelle vous avez obtenu une vignette l’année passée afin d’accéder au site du CERN sans avoir besoin d’une vignette. L’accès sera autorisé par reconnaissance optique des plaques (les occupants devant aussi avoir chacun(e) leur carte d’accès personnelle). Dès réception d’informations officielles de la part de l’administration du CERN, ce message sera mis à jour. “
Of course, as mentioned above, your access card must be valid and the car you are using must be the one registered at Building 55.
We do hope that the relevant CERN services will finally agree to our longstanding request to inform the retirees in writing and in full detail of the access and parking rules applicable to them.
Our contacts/relations with the Administration do not stop at questions concerning site access. Recently (in January), our President approached the Director of Administration concerning the following problems:
Access to administrative documents such as operational and administrative circulars (e.g. CO2).
WiFi access when on the sites and a computer identity so that we can have better contact and access to CERN services.
We hope for some improvements on all these questions since we attach much importance to the necessity of CERN staying in close contact with former staff so that the retirees can feel that they are still members of the CERN community.
A recent move in this direction has been the Alumni programme which is being set up: http://alumni.cern/
Relations with the Governing Board of the Pension Fund (PFGB)
Reminder: We have one GAC-EPA representative on the PFGB, the role of which is the governance of the Pension Fund: Michel Baboulaz, in post since 1 January 2015.
The PFGB is aided by the Investment Committee and the Actuarial and Technical Committee.
All these entities are made up of members appointed by the Councils and Managements of CERN and ESO as well as of members representing the Staff Associations of CERN and ESO and the GAC-EPA.
In our previous Bulletin we mentioned the setting up by the CERN Council of a working group to make an in-depth study of the functioning of the PFGB. This group has been working since November 2016 and has held three meetings. The SA and GAC-EPA have one representative each in this group.
What recommendations will come from this group? It is too soon to tell, but it is very important that we take part so that the interests of the beneficiaries of the Pension Fund are preserved.
In contrast with 2015, the global return of the Pension Fund in 2016 has not been very good : the return on assets in 2016 was 1.48%, that is 1.56% below the rate required to reach the goal of 3% above inflation in Geneva. Michel Baboulaz’s article on the Pension Fund will give you more details.
Relations with the CHIS Board
The CHIS Board (CERN Health Insurance Scheme Committee) is the joint instance on questions concerning health insurance and whose role is now consultative at the discretion of the CHIS (administering the health insurance); this Committee meets in principle once per month; our two delegates, Morna Robillard and David Jacobs, take part on a regular basis.
The principal subject of discussion (since 2015) is the revision of the CHIS Rules. These were approved in principle by the CERN Council in December 2016.
The text of the Rules has now to be finalized so that they are accessible by everyone. The article by Morna Robillard and David Jacobs on the Health Insurance Scheme will give you more details.
Relations with current and future pensioners
Several sources are used to keep you informed:
Annual General Meeting
On 24 March 2017, some of you were able to assist in person at our AGM. Those of you with internet could follow the proceedings via a webcast. You can find the archived version on our website. The Minutes of the AGM are sent to all members by post.
In the same mailing you will receive the Minutes of the AGM and the present Bulletin which informs you of the activities of the last six months.
Our GAC-EPA public site has a lot of useful information for current and future pensioners. http://www.gac-epa.org/Welcome.html
Youcan use the contact form to send a message that we shall reply to.
You can also contact us at the following address
p/a Association du Personnel
CH — 1211 Genève 23
Since the beginning of 2017 our Information Sessions are held on the last Tuesday of the month except in June, July and December; three members of the Committee, René Barthélémy, Michel Boffard and Jean-François Michaud are there to listen and to the best of their ability answer your questions.
As in 2016, SA cards are available at the SA secretariat for those who requested them.
Looking forward to the next Bulletin, end of November 2017
One more troubled year for the Fund. Financial markets went through several lows and few highs.
A strong recovery in equity prices in the second half pushed the performance of the Fund to a rather weak return of +1.48%. The report below as at 31 Dec. 2016 shows the monthly returns since January 2012 as well as the 2016 performance for each asset class.
Note : NAV= Net Asset Value, YTD= Year To Date
To reach its 3% above inflation objective, the Fund should have reached a 3.04% return. As a consequence of this below objective return the liabilities funding ratio at end 2016, calculated according to the Best Estimates, was 72.5% versus 73.0% at end 2015.
It should be noted that the average annual return during the last 5 years (2012-2016) is +4.65%.
The impact of the Pound Sterling depreciation following the Brexit has been minimised thanks to a prudent currency hedging policy, hedging more than 90% of its exposure.
Comments on each asset class performance :
Interest rates on government bonds remained extremely low, a compensation was obtained from carefully selected corporate bonds. But the 1.56% performance is still low.
The equity markets showed a high volatility, notably in Japan and the United States. They performed strongly in the US during the 4th quarter, helping the Fund’s portfolio to reach 2.60% at yearend.
Investments in Real Assets produced the best performance with 7.59%. They are made of buildings in Europe, farmland in Great Britain, forests in France and shares of funds investing in forests and farms in various regions of the world.
Investments in private equity are mostly in Europe and the US. Their value at year-end is evaluated and their performance calculated as 4.06%.
Alternative investments are mostly in hedge funds. A decision was made in 2016 to reduce the allocation to hedge funds. They generated a return of +1.1% in USD, or -2.32% in CHF.
You should know that the Fund paid out 318 MCHF for our pensions in 2016 and received 234 MCHF in contributions.
The Fund demography
Summary of the number of members of the Fund (CERN + ESO):
deaths in 2016
According to the Actuary’s estimates, the number of probable deaths of beneficiaries in 2016 was 107.
Analysis of actuarial factors
Towards the year-end, the Actuary to the Fund produced an in-depth analysis of most factors having an important impact on our Fund’s funding level, both as a result of the Rules or of members choices. He analysed the impact of each factor by varying their parameters. He ordered these factors in 3 sets :
Factors involving an option : anticipated retirement / transfer value payment at end of service / purchase of added periods / purchase of spouse’s pension
Factors which determine a benefit : young spouse reduction / shift work / purchasing power loss adjustment / C coefficients
Parameters of a pension’s calculation : reference salary / retirement pension / surviving spouse’s pension / orphan’s pension / family allowance
This document was analysed and validated by the Actuarial and Technical Committee (ATC). It is seen as a useful reference for future reviews.
Pensioners associations in other International Organizations
The « Association des Agents Pensionnés des Organisations Coordonnées et de leurs Ayants Droit » (AAPOCAD) took the initiative to invite pensioners associations to a conference held at the OECD in Paris, on March 22 and 23. Twelve such associations had the opportunity of exchanging their experience and knowledge. The GAC-EPA committee was represented by two delegates, Jean- François Michaud et Michel Baboulaz.
Subject matters discussed were : the associations’ legal status and representativeness, the logistics support received, the role they may play in advisory or decision-making bodies, the pensions schemes and the possibilities of appeal open to pensioners.
We could observe a large diversity of situations and a common feature : the pension funds of international organizations are seen as too expensive by their Member States and attempts to reduce pensions are frequent.
The Health Insurance Scheme
A full account of CHIS Board news up to 24 March was given at the GAC AGM on that day. Please refer to the minutes of that meeting for the details. The following merely summarises the developments that have occurred since that time
The CHIS Board met on 25 April. This was the last meeting under the chairmanship of Philippe Charpentier and he was thanked for his considerable contributions over nine years in this role. The next meeting is foreseen for 9 May and will be the first under the chairmanship of Carmelo Saitta.
Together, the two reserve funds (Sarasin and UBS) grew further in 2016 to 217MCHF. The performance was rather neutral at ~-0.15%. In the first quarter of this year the return on the funds was much better (~2%).
Management of the scheme
This year the 2016 statistics will not be reported by UNIQA until the May CHIS Board meeting.
Revision of the CHIS Rules
Despite the efforts made, it was not possible at the 30 March SCC meeting to converge completely on a final text for the revised CHIS Rules. Nevertheless there is agreement that this will be possible during May. The translation to English was launched in mid-March and is well-advanced. Since it is said to have equal validity with the French version, the two will be carefully compared. The Administrative Information Service (AIS) has launched the informatics changes necessary for an introduction of the revised Rules on 1 July. We are assured that all members of CHIS will be fully informed beforehand.
It is reported that the project for payment of claims directly from a CERN account, rather than transiting via a UNIQA account, will go into production in June. There should be no visible effect for users.
Again this year Rene Barthelemy, Michel Boffard and Jean-Francois Michaud held the Information Sessions.
But this year they took place on the last TUESDAY of the month in the Staff Association meeting room except in January, (June, July and December). The schedule of meetings can be found on the GACEPA website and are announced in the ECHO magazine one or two weeks before the session date.
This year the issues dealt with were:
Problems with Health Insurance reimbursements,
Help with Tax Return form!!!
Access to CERN site problems,
As usual, the French tax problem concerning CSG and CRDS taxation on CERN pensions and on private estate came up again. We gave advice on what steps to take. Please refer to the “C2S” article for further information on this point.
A special commission to help with “private problems” has been set up in close collaboration with the Staff Association.
As always we try to reply to your questions. Sometimes we are obliged to refer you to persons better equipped to reply than ourselves.
In general for us these sessions are convivial and very helpful and the problems of some bring replies to those of others.
And, when time allows, some enjoy a chat about the good old times.
We hope that all who have sought us out for help or advice got a satisfactory reply. We shall continue our “mission” with GAC-EPA, so once again, thank you for your trust in us and your support.
Last autumn the following message was received from the lawyer: “Today I received the acknowledgment of my referral, justifying that the TASS has accepted this document. I am waiting to receive the official summons and will keep you informed.”
After waiting a few months and recontacting the lawyer at the Bourg-en-Bresse Tribunal, the following answer was received in March 2017: “ For your information, I have specified that you request the TASS Registrar’s Office for details of the date of the official summons for the abovementioned file. He told me that it takes at least one year ... I am at your disposal to discuss the follow up if you so wish.”
So this is the latest information and we know that the authorities can win. For the time being we will hang on.
Contacts will be made with two other international organizations which have members facing the same problems.
Shortly, the AFIF (Association for French International Civil Servants) will organize a meeting where the subject of taxation will be discussed.
However, as in previous years, those who are subject to the CSG on their pension will need to obtain:
The proof of non-affiliation to the CPAM of the SS. (If by chance there are problems, do not hesitate to appeal to the conciliator.)
The certificate of affiliation to the CERN health insurance fund: the CHIS.
You should telephone beforehand as the document has to be prepared and then signed by the department head.
The two documents must be forwarded to the tax office of the pensioner’s residence for reimbursement.
As for the CSG tax on income from property, not normally dealt with by the GAC-EPA, a group has been created on Jean-François Michaud’s initiative to give as much information as possible on this subject
If you wish to write a word of sympathy to the bereaved family you can send it via the CERN Pension Fund, which has their address but is not authorised to give it to third parties.
History of CERN = our History
In the framework of the Alumni Project, the project team is imagining a recurrent social event around a drink, with photos displayed for which content is today unknown. Would you be interested? Are there volunteers to help organize this event? If so, please send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org
To receive the payment of your pension on a non-Swiss bank
The Pension Fund informed us about the possibility for a pensioner domiciled outside Switzerland to receive the transfers of his pension to a non- Swiss bank insofar as this bank has a branch in Switzerland.
The essential rule for the Pension Fund to make such transfers is that the IBAN (International Bank Account Number) of the bank account to which the transfer is to be made begins with the letters CH. European banks having a Swiss subsidiary and agreeing to open an account with an IBAN of the type CH… … for a pensioner domiciled outside Switzerland can be accepted by the Pension Fund’s payment system.
Some examples are known.
If you are having difficulty opening an account, you have the opportunity to become a member of the association AMFIE, the financial cooperative association of international civil servants. Based in Luxembourg, this association offers services similar to those of a bank (credit card, savings, etc.). Many beneficiaries have already found this solution very practical.
Once the beneficiary is a member of AMFIE, the pension will be paid into that account in Switzerland and in Swiss francs. Then it is possible to transfer the amount (automatically if desired) to another account in another currency of corresponding banks.