It is an honour and a privilege to assume the presidency of the GAC-EPA.
It is certainly extremely difficult to replace Gertjan Bossen who has made a fundamental contribution to our association for seven years.
He has accepted, as vice-president, to help me know and quickly enter into all the activities covered by the GAC-EPA.
I would like to stress that pensioners and in particular the members of the GAC‑EPA have made and continue to make a huge contribution to the success of CERN.
Thanks to the experience I have accumulated in my career, in various activities of the organization, I want to make my contribution to the GAC-EPA.
In this spirit and thanks to the help of the members of the committee, I would like to ensure continuity in various areas such as the pension fund, health insurance and, above all, constructive contact with the management in collaboration with the Staff Association.
Your President Enrico Chiaveri
The editors are looking again for translators and correctors in the two languages, English and French. We invite you to contact the secretariat.
A thank you from the Committee to the vast majority of our members who already paid their subscription 2019.
The others (who might have been waiting for this reminder) are invited to settle their subscription 2019 at their earliest convenience by paying 30 CHF to the UBS account of the GAC-EPA (CERN and ESO Pensioners’ Association), IBAN CH47 0027 9279 C710 9245 0
For the future, it is strongly recommended to pay your subscription by standing order with execution date of 7 January of each year, with the message “membership GAC-EPA” followed by your complete name.
Pay attention please:
Our treasurer reminds you that paying your subscription by a postal order costs us money. She asks you to please pay your subscription by standing order via the bank (see IBAN above).
Some changes which we propose to make
Since our previous AGM we have changed President and the first Committee meetings have taken place serenely under the new chair, Enrico CHIAVERI. Continuity has been assured and work is proceeding well.
The Bulletin will continue, with nevertheless some changes in 2020, changes which we now propose to you.
For the issue number 58 in Spring 2020 we would like to avoid the Bulletin being a partial copy of the minutes of the AGM. Until now, the spring Bulletin has often repeated information from the minutes of the AGM sent out at the same time: this is a useless redundancy.
Let us think what this means: on the one hand we have the minutes of the AGM as a formal legal and administrative document; they cannot be modified in form or content since they are the subject of a vote. As a formal summary of the activities and decisions of the Committee during the previous year, they must remain a historical document for our Association.
On the other hand we would like to reduce the repetition of the AGM in the Bulletin. For this, it is envisaged to simplify reading the two documents by incorporating the Minutes of the AGM “in extenso“ in the Bulletin, like any other article in it.
In order to reduce the contents of the Bulletin, this means dispensing with the article “Activities of the Committee” and simplifying the articles “Health Insurance” and “Pension Fund”. There would be no change to the rest of the Bulletin. The autumn 2020 Bulletin would thus be shorter, but would continue to give the latest news of the two simplified topics (HI and PF). What do you think of this? As a transitory measure towards these positive changes, we decided that for the present Bulletin we would introduce a new section “For the record” to retrace the history of our social achievements: today this is about Long Term Care. In this issue we will summarise all that has been patiently achieved on LTC over many years.
Let us never forget that our collective memory is the foundation of our existence, and the Bulletin gives the gist.
In January 2019, a number of improvements to the Cigna healthcare coverage were made. In brief, these include:
• The requirement for a minimum change of dioptre in a calendar year for reimbursement of and additional set of spectacles or contact lenses has been removed.
Skin cancer checks are now reimbursed annually instead of every two years for beneficiaries over the age of 35.
A separate article covering pre- and postnatal care by a midwife has been introduced.
A separate article covering hearing aids has been introduced.
The per diem costs of rehabilitation clinics after surgery have been increased and these costs are no longer considered to include medical care received.
The article on transport costs has been clarified.
Full details of these changes can be found on EPA website.
ESO released a policy on Personal Data Protection last year. The aim of this is to provide similar assurances as the EU General Data Protection Regulation. It should provide clarity on this issue and facilitate ESO’s cooperation with European firms and institutions. This policy also has implications for retired staff. It is not clear, for example, what data the organization keeps about its retired staff, how the consent of the data subject is to be obtained and how he or she is able to access this data and check their correctness. To clarify these questions, Erik Allaert and I met with the ESO Data Protection Responsible, Enikö Patkós, in March. It was clear from our meeting that the implementation of the policy is only just beginning and will take at least a year to complete. The meeting was nevertheless useful as it allowed the concerns of retired staff to be reflected during the implementation period.
For some time, CERN has had a scheme for Honorary Members. These are former staff members who wish to continue taking an active part in the work of the Organization on a voluntary basis after retirement. Although there have been some ad hoc arrangements in the past, ESO has had no similar scheme apart from that for Emeritus staff. Largely on the initiative of Rein Warmels, he and I prepared a proposal last summer, based on the CERN scheme for Honorary Members, for a similar scheme to be introduced at ESO. This was discussed with the ESO Staff Association and sent to the ESO Administration for consideration.
Our proposal was basically accepted and in January a draft counter proposal was prepared by the Administration for comments. The draft document was unclear in several areas and so we provided some suggestions for improvement at the time. In mid-April, just before the deadline for this Bulletin, we received a new version of the ESO document.
Unfortunately, the new version has changed little from the previous one and indicates that the author has little understanding of how ESO IT accounts are allocated. In some cases, the rights of voluntary staff are even more restrictive than for pensioners with a normal access card. This document therefore needs to be discussed further with the Administration before we consider it to be satisfactory.
For the Record
The series of dossiers which we propose to you from the present number 56 onwards are summaries of the work and negotiations which led to the acquired social rights which we have today. These social improvements did not fall from the sky, and involved at the time bitter negotiations between the Staff Association, GAC and the decision-making powers of the Organization (the Management and the Member States via the CERN Council).
“Those who forget their history are condemned to relive it” Karl Marx
First part: 1990 - 1995
The stages in the improvements in social rights mentioned above wouldn’t exist without remembering beforehand two people for their incalculable contribution to its achievement, whom we recall and thank them again for this.
Jean-Paul DISS, who was the Doctor in charge of the Medical Service for many years, then was the representative of GAC on the CHIS Board. He knew, both while a staff member and afterwards, how to make everyone aware of the problem which would arise with the ageing of the population, and the financial consequences for a private health insurance scheme like CHIS, and how to work to resolve this.
Derek BALL, Vice-President of the Staff Association, who took this dossier to heart, without ever being discouraged, and drew up multiple versions of reports over the months and years, this time being needed to eventually lead to the creation of what is called LTC (Long Term Care) as an integral part of CHIS, available to all.
It was a little before 1990 that the first cases alerted both the Staff Association and CERN Management to this issue. They observed a significant increase in the costs of medical and assimilated care.
We have to emphasize that at that time the costs, greatly increased, due to care providers, were further increased on account of the first costs due to ageing of the population (some cases of dependency at end-of-life alerted us to the danger of imbalance to the Health Insurance Scheme).
One did not yet speak of dependency, but of geriatrics.
These expenses, covering hospital care, stays in a care home with medico-social support, and care in the individual’s home, then started to seriously affect the Health Insurance budget, whose management, let us remember, was in the hands of AUSTRIA (whose contract also came to an end in 1990).
A working group was set up (1st group Hans Hoffman) whose conclusions were presented to CERN management in 1991 and reported to the Staff Association: it said that the benefits of the Health Insurance scheme are quite comparable to those of other International Organizations, and that the principle of mutualisation should not be put in question. It also thought that the current management (AUSTRIA) should be continued for the next five years, and that a check on costs should be envisaged.
Following this first report the group (2nd group Hans Hoffman) was asked to study means to better control costs. Following this a Supervisory Committee was formed to group together the activities of all the sub-groups working on these subjects, thus ending their existence. This Committee was placed directly under the Standing Advisory Committee (CCP) in November 1992 and was made up on an equal basis of eight members, four from the Management and four from the Staff Association. This was the official birth of today’s CERN Health Insurance Board (CHISB).
In response to a request from GAC, from April 1993 the Staff Association gave up two of its places on the Board so that the voice of pensioners could be fully heard.
The report of the 2nd group of 1992 - henceforth studied by the CHIS Board, promised numerous tools for supervising the scheme : a report to the Standing Advisory Committee (CCP) on the health of the scheme, an information bulletin on CHIS for the staff, the first measures to control costs, negotiations with care providers, a reduction in the package price of spa treatments, problems of surviving spouses, etc.
In 1993 a new report, the Weber report (at the time, Director of Administration) proposed to follow the evolution of the charges for dependency in the Member States, but without upsetting the management of the scheme. Let us remember that at that time the Member States wished only to do things their way, without taking into account internal dialogue, and to take final decisions themselves.
1994 was the time when one started to examine the cases of deep dependency, and to show by various studies, that the costs of care in medico-social or home environments could be considerable. From this report the Standing Advisory Committee was presented in April 1995 with a series of questions aimed at defining which type of social protection to respond to the situation of dependency.
The questions were as follows. Should the insurance be voluntary or obligatory? Who will be concerned as dependants: staff members, spouses, children? Should it be by means of a private insurance or via CERN? Which types of care will be covered, in the medico-social area and at home? What will be the maximum amounts and what will be the franchise? How will the costs be divided between the staff members and the Organization? To address these questions, the CHIS Board examined the practices in four of the Member States (CH, FR, DE, UK) and in the international organizations comprising the UN family. In parallel, a request was made to AUSTRIA to evaluate potential economies in health and accident insurance. It was the publication of this latter request in the CERN Bulletin, without prior consultation with the CHIS Board, which provoked an ‘incident’ with the CERN Management.
In June 1995 the Finance Committee approved the taking over (progressively until 2000) of the shortfall in the contributions of CERN for the retired staff. This had been a persistent request of the Staff Association and its acceptance was a unique step forward in the history of CERN. For, without it, the long-term financing of our health system would have been very uncertain. Happily we are all still benefitting from this at the present time.
At the same time, as in any negotiation, everybody’s point of view had to be respected. It was therefore decided to increase the franchise, to reduce the reimbursement for the cost of spa treatment, and to question the payment of the professional risk by CERN.
It should be noted that this process of discussion was later to serve as a basis for TREF, the tripartite forum between the Member States, the 9 GAC-EPA Bulletin N°56 Printemps /Spring 2019 CERN Management and the Staff Association for everything related to work and employment conditions. But we will come back to this in more detail in a future edition.
In the autumn of that year (1995), the representative of the CERN Management on the CHIS Board attended a meeting in The Hague at which several international organizations were also present. It turned out that studying the possible means which could be applied in the case of dependence was becoming urgent. The proposal of turning to private insurers with an obligatory and general scheme for everyone, together with a collaboration among the organizations based in Geneva to reduce costs, was adopted by the meeting.
After an internal study, this measure was not adopted by CERN, mainly for the reason of harmonising the contributions of everyone. Instead, from the year after onwards, the CHIS Board pursued without respite its work on constructing an in-house system.
But how could one convince the governing bodies and the active and retired staff of the advantage of this new, well-founded social and economic protection? Even more so since the relations between the Staff Association, the CERN Management and the Member States were often strained, with the latter believing that anything was allowed (for them), and showing a lot of arrogance towards, and disrespect for, the staff.
A situation which even led, in November 1995, to a large demonstration known as ‘The Balloon demonstration’, whose high point was a sit-in in front of the Council Chamber.
One thing is clear, nothing was easy! And at that moment, the road to the LTL would be still long … This is what we will tell you in the second part of this report, which will appear in the Autumn 2019 GAC-EPA Bulletin.
Pension fund demographic data
The strength of members (staff and fellows) and beneficiaries changes gradually. The distribution by pension type as at 31-12-2018 and 31-12-2017 is presented below.
Members before 2012
Members after 2011
Disability and ex-gratia
There were 406 beneficiaries who left the two organizations (CERN and ESO) during the year 2018, 59 of which were retirements (40 in 2017).
The distribution by age of beneficiaries at 31-12- 2018 is plotted on the pyramid below.
Beneficiaries reside in 48 different countries: (sort tabel by clicking small arrows)
The performance of the Fund went down in 2018, as expected. Some asset classes produced a negative return. Overall the Fund performance remained positive (+1.31%) thanks to a low risk limit.
The average return of Swiss public pension funds was -3.5% in 2018.
Financial statements at 31-12-2018
The aggregated 2018 financial flows (see below) highlight the relative weight of the contributions paid by members and by the employing Organizations CERN and ESO.
Amounts in kCHF
Net assets balance as at 1 January
Employer special contributions
Purchase of additional years
Indemnities and compensations
Procurement of entitlement to pension for surviving spouse
Transfer values and contributions paid
Balance as at 31 December
The funding ratio as at 31-12-2018 is calculated by the Actuary following two different methods: - when applying the international accounting standards IAS26, producing a discount rate of 1.18%, the Actuary determines a funding ratio of 41.7% with a deficit of 5,869 MCHF.
when using the Best Estimate assumptions as approved by the Council, the funding ratio is 67.8% and the deficit 1,994 MCHF.
2019 Periodic actuarial review
Using the same « Best Estimate » concept as for the 2016 periodic actuarial review, this review includes very different assumptions.
In addition to the updating of several parameters, as reported in Bulletin 55, two major changes were applied to significant actuarial assumptions on which the projection to 1-1-2041 is based.
The annual rate of promotional salary increase for staff members is now assumed to vary linearly from 2.0% to 1.2% between the age of 18 to 66.For the 2016 review, these rate limits were 1.4% and 0.6%. This change corrects the result of a miscommunication between the Actuary and CERN HR department.
Long term economic assumptions for growth, inflation and interest rates leading to expected returns were delivered by the risk consultant Ortec Finance. They are very different from those provided for the 2016 review. The rates of inflation and return (used as discount rate) are significantly lower. This Best Estimate scenario has an estimated probability of 40% and it assumes a climate change development in line with the COP21 agreement.
As a result of these changes, the funding ratio, when evaluated as at 1-1-2041 (end date for reviews since the 2011 measures were adopted) decreased to 103.4%. It was 113.6% in the 2016 periodic actuarial review.
Pension Fund Administration
The amended Rules and Regulations version approved on 14 June 2018 by the CERN Council has been issued. It is available on the Fund web site and as a paper copy from the Fund secretariat.
On the basis of Annex C of the Rules, pensions may be indexed on inflation for those pensioners whose maximum Purchasing Power Loss (PPL), as specified in the Annex C table, is smaller than the annual Geneva Price index. Most current pensioners have a maximum PPL of 8% and their cumulated average PPL is currently 2.52%. According to this table, the maximum PPL rate decreases gradually for new pensioners as from 2013.
With an inflation rate 2018 at 1.3%, new pensioners from August 2018 (max. PPL 1.2%) may have their pension indexed as at 1-1-2019. The calculation is based on both the inflation rate and the IAS26 funding rate of the Fund, currently 41.7%.
The Health Insurance Scheme
The CHIS Board has met every month since the publication of the last GAC Bulletin in November.
CHIS service improvements
All CHIS Members with access to a computer should be interested in two service improvements that are expected in 2019:
1) Paperless submission of reimbursement requests to UNIQA - You will be able to make the request by computer and paper supporting documents will no longer need to be sent.
- This is in the hands of UNIQA, which has yet to present the implementation details to the CHIS Board. Nevertheless, an introduction as of early autumn is still spoken of. It is thought likely that CHIS Members will not be required to keep the paper supporting documents longer than two years (in case of query by UNIQA).
2) Paperless submission of Spouse’s Health Insurance and Personal Income Declaration (SHIPID) form.
- Active staff can already do this but so far pensioners do not have the necessary access to the EDH system. An implementation solution has been agreed but the responsible Department (FAP) has yet to allocate effort to carry it out.
The Administration of the scheme
This year there will be an Actuarial Study of the scheme’s reserve funds (mainly concerns the reserve for Long Term Care, since otherwise CHIS is budgetised). There will also be an IPSAS (International Public Sector Accounting Standards) evaluation which will include aspects such as the reserves of the scheme against the possibility of dissolution of the Organization.
The Standing Concertation Committee (SCC) has established two working groups, the work of which will be likely to interest pensioners who are members of CHIS. The first is discussing mainly Pension Guarantees but a sub-point concerns CHIS. The second will be looking at the effects of (re) marriage after retirement. The CHIS Administrator is involved as well as another member of the CHIS Board. The CHIS Board will hear and discuss the findings of the groups as their work progresses.
CHIS information for Members
The CHIS Board recently welcomed the news that a new edition of the CHIS Bull is in preparation (after an unfortunate lapse since the end of 2017).
News about CHIS is, of course, available in a number of other places, e.g:
However, one issue is missing, number 9 from the first year of publication (1965), dated 24-29 May.
If there is anyone who has a copy of this issue and would be willing to lend it for scanning, could they please contact Jens Vigen at the CERN Library :
tel. 767 24 10
Increased UK taxation on CERN Pension income.
Since 2017 UK taxation of CERN pension income has increased due to the removal of a general concession on foreign pensions. This has pushed certain pensioners into uncomfortably expensive tax brackets making the UK much less attractive to CERN retirees. While the UK accords substantial pension tax concessions to many international organisations, such as the UN, EU, Co-ordinated organisations, and on overseas UK government pensions, they have refused to make similar concessions to CERN pensioners residing in the UK. A small group of CERN pensioners have been challenging this unfair treatment through their local MPs. However, we need more pensioners to contact their MPs in order to strengthen our argument. If you are a UK/CERN retiree (or even know of one) and would like to help, please contact Paul Proudlock for more details on firstname.lastname@example.org .
Information sessions (permanences)
Since the last Bulletin in the autumn there has been a great change in the composition of the team: Michel Boffard is no longer with us (see the tribute). The commission now consists of: René BARTHELEMY, Susan LEECH O’NEALE and Jean François MICHAUD.
The sessions are held on the Tuesday preceding the meeting of the GAC-EPA committee, which, in principle, is held on the first Friday of the month (except July, August, January). They take place in the Staff Association meeting room from 13:30 to 16:00. We are there to meet retirees faced with a personal problem.
The schedule is available on the website of gac-epa.
org under “calendar” and an announcement is made in the “Echo” a week to 15 days before the session.
As usual, the most talked about topics are always the same of which you are well aware: health insurance issues and fiscalities.
A recurring subject for discussion is the problem related to French taxation – with the imposition of CSG and CRDS taxes on CERN pensions or wealth.
We have been able to give information on the steps to be taken, see the C2S section.
The members of the commission regularly try to answer these questions or refer our members to other appropriate bodies.
The exchanges are generally convivial and rewarding for us. We can enrich our replies for those in a similar situation.
We hope that all those who came to us for information or support were satisfied with our solutions. We are all happy to continue with our activities. Your comments are also very welcome.
Thank you again for your confidence in us.
Spring has arrived and the C2S collective has again been approached to try to help those still subject to the CSG – CRDS tax on their CERN pension or wealth.
The other subject that has taken the time of the collective is that of deduction of tax at source. This has finally been well documented: Annonce: "impôts à la source".
Another file has been opened up. It concerns CERN retirees in receipt of a French pension, possessing a “Carte Vitale” that they have never used, but not being able to obtain a certificate to the effect that they do not belong to the CPAM. This file is in the hands of a French lawyer, the referral is ready and we have been waiting for the summons to the Administrative Court of Bourg en Bresse for more than two years.
Some good news is that (according to the lawyer) we should be summoned in the second half of this year.
As for the liability for the CSG-CRDS tax on pensions and wealth, we are working in coordination with the Staff Association on several fronts:
Those who have been subjected to the CSG on their CERN pension, also receive a French pension, do not have a Carte Vitale, but who have not been able to obtain proof that they do not belong to the CPAM.
Those who do not receive a French pension but are still subject to the CSG on their CERN pension.
Those who are subject to wealth tax (rental income, capital gains etc.).
We have been able to send the relevant files (the above types of cases) to the lawyer for the Staff Association so that all the cases can be treated in one and the same procedure.
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.
Tribute Michel BOFFARD
Michel Boffard passed away on Tuesday 8 January, in his 79th year, in complete discretion, without warning anyone, tiptoeing as if not to disturb.
His discreet departure contrasts sharply with what many of us have known about him. Rather perceived as a fiery boy, a grouchy character, short-fused and angry about the established order, he often showed endearing qualities: devoted, showing extraordinary generosity and great intelligence, while constantly questioning things and wielding provocation.
However, what his colleagues will remember about him is above all his generous soul.
We only have little information about his career at CERN, but we received a few points of reference.
Having joined CERN to work on the video of the Booster access system, he provided his keen insight into the security and prevention aspects of access systems. He then joined the section of Claude Jacot, on the occasion of all access control activities for accelerators, site surveillance, guards and reception, including audio and video communications for all these activities, being grouped within the Monitoring and Communication (MC) group of the Technical Support (ST) division.
Michel, together with J. Barlow, was responsible for the communication networks including cameras and intercom systems for access control and site surveillance systems. In addition to this added to his plate were the “Broadband CERN wide” broadcasting networks of information pages for the operation of PS, SPS and LEP accelerators, which were visible on many TV sets throughout the site.
Michel engaged in all these activities with unusual generosity. In 1995, he participated in the development of technical specifications, procurement monitoring and installation of the project to renew audio-video communications for SPS and LEP accelerators.
In 1998, he became responsible for the maintenance work of the secure power supply system, as well as the supply logistics and work execution planning for the equipment of the access systems.
During the last years of his professional activity, he also joined the Staff Association, where he was elected as a staff representative. His desire to give back what he had been given in the difficult moments of his life led him to give his time to colleagues who, during their professional careers, fell into dire times of need or disgrace. He fully associated his role as a delegate with justice and this led him passionately to the repair or compensation of wrong-doings. There again he remained a baffling phenomenon.
After his retirement, he stayed in contact with the Organization, re-engaging in the “Groupement des anciens du CERN” (GAC-EPA) within several commissions -- always this urge to serve! Within the GAC-EPA, he has alternated between permanence duty, monitoring the work of the mutual aid fund and participating in the work of the Staff Council.
Michel has also been involved in many outside-work activities, where his generosity has made him a celebrity. This is true in volleyball, where he engaged as a player and then as a referee for the Geneva Association, but also in cycling. This is also true of his work as a guide at CERN, where his knowledge of accelerators and his guile in popularizing their technical aspects have done wonders for the public.
In each of these activities, he left a special memory.
Lately, he had become passionate about Chinese calligraphy and the culture of the Land of the Rising Sun.
Just before he passed away, Michel was still up and cheerful during a chemotherapy session at the hospital. Michel was really an endearing character! May our affection, and Peace, be with you, Michel.
In the last edition, the editorial staff promised you two exercises for testing your memory.
Please, find below two exercises which require different cognitive functions (memory, reasoning...). They will allow you to self-evaluate and have a glimpse of the functioning of your brain.
Exercise 1 : Take one minute to memorise the drawing below, then hide the model and try to redraw it from memory.
Exercise 2 : fill in the circles until the number of filled circles corresponds to the number noted inside the relevant box. (Solution by clicking on the image).
This Bulletin reports on the activities of the Committee of the CERN-ESO Pensioners’ Association (GAC-EPA) and on the work of the CERN and ESO committees in which the GAC-EPA is represented.
Editor-in-chief: Bernard Ducret
Morna Robillard, Susan Leech O'Neale, William Blair, Susan Maio,
Michel Baboulaz, David Jacobs David Dallman
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.