Group of European Pensioners from Savings Banks and Financial Institutions


Index of documents > Euromeetings Magazine > Euromeetings Number 5

During our last two congresses we debated about the concept of 'a society for all ages', proposing well-defined demands in order to obtain for the elderly a full recognition of their rights, with an active participation in social life and, through their representatives, with a decisive voice in our society and in the organisations which deal with the problems of the elderly and therefore of the pensioners. These problems cover many areas: social security, health service, taxes, social policy, and so on. The conclusions, at least those from our Congress in 1999, were later sent to the Spanish representative for the UNESCO, in order to make them reach the Organisation’s headquarters in Paris.


It is now when a very interesting circumstance is being manifested: we have to carry out our work as a lobby, as Mr. Vauriot already announced this year in his conclusions about our Congress.


The Council of Europe, during the meetings of the 3rd and 4th June 1999, in Cologne, warned about the necessity of drawing up a 'Charter of the Fundamental Rights of the European Union'. Actually, in the Union there is already the 'Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms', dated 4 November 1950, which has become a law in some countries.


The objective of the drawing up of the new charter by a commission of 62 members, presided by Mr. Roman Herzog (15 personal representatives from the Member States, 30 national parliamentarians, 16 MEPs, an expert from the Commission in Brussels; the Court of Justice of the European Community and the Council of Europe are taking part as observers) is to write the rights and obligations of every citizen, in order to help them to get closer to the building of Europe.


The work is organised in three groups. The first one is in charge of the traditional rights of freedom and equality, and of their articulation in the European Convention of Human Rights, the powers of the European Union and the Member States. The second group is in charge of the civil and political rights, and, finally, the third group deals with the economic and social rights, as those stated in the 'European Social Charter' (signed in 1961 and not ratified by all the Member States yet) and in the 'Community Charter of Fundamental Social Rights of Workers' (signed in 1989 by all the Member States but the United Kingdom). However, both charters represent solemn declarations which entail no obligation at all.


In the last case, some Nordic countries and the United Kingdom’s representatives are against the widening of these rights. The German representatives, for their part, do not view this widening favourably either, saying that these rights are more or less guaranteed by the Fundamental Law of 1949 and the jurisprudence established by the Court of Karlsruhe. However, we need to take into account that the social area is the most deficient area of the building of Europe.


The main problem lies in the juridical value of the final document that is necessary to obtain their application in all the Union. In fact, the more incisive, powerful, concise and understandable the text is, the more appropriate the question of its juridical value and its integration into the treaties will be.


Nowadays, and taking into account all we know about the text which is being debated, an idea is raising which reduces extremely the concept of citizenship and its role in the institutions of the Union, because it seems that the term 'citizens' is understood as concrete individuals with the ability to participate in groups, associations, demanding movements, and so on. Only the parties and trade unions have a recognised role while citizens only have the right to free association. However, it would seem that the Union is not interested in that perspective. In the Charter’s text, where it does not appear the right to 'associate to safeguard one’s own interests', it is not difficult to begin to see the temptation to give the citizens the role of passive individuals, who will simply benefit from another’s actions. Basically, there is only one way for the citizens to participate in the Union: the elections for the European Parliament.


It would be convenient that the Charter of Fundamental Rights was the articulation of a constitutional Union, and not a community of treaties. The current phase of development of the European Union is beyond an economic logic and therefore the European Union would earn legitimacy and acceptance, getting an organisational instrument: the elaboration of a European Constitution in the framework of the economic union should be the fruit of the political union.


Concerning all this, the Italian Federation of Bank Pensioners has planned to send to the Economic and Social Committee of the European Union of the Council of Europe in Brussels, to the Centre of Information of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights in Strasbourg, to the Italian representatives in the Council of Europe, to another Italian associations, to political representatives and to the Honourable Professor Filippo de Jorio (member of the Economic and Social Committee of the European Union and editor of the project of the 'Charter of Fundamental Rights of the Pensioner Citizen in the Social Europe'), the resolutions approved during the Congresses of the European Group in 1999 and 2000, the statutes and programmes of our Federation and European Group, the project of the 'Charter of Fundamental Rights of the Pensioner in the Social Europe', with a firm demand to add to the projected new 'Charter' our right to exist, to be heard and to have a determining influence in all the decisions concerning us.


I will finish with an invitation to all the colleagues and associations that work in the European Union, together with the European Group, to start and keep relationships with different organisations, trade unions included; to strengthen in order to form a solid platform forgetting political differences, remembering that being together is the only way to consolidate our position, that by means of watching carefully the future our chance to make our voices and demands heard will materialise; to ask for the attention of the organisations and politicians, in our countries and all over Europe, when dealing with the agreements of our Congresses. Let us all remember that the Charter being debated should be finished when the Council of Europe meets in Nice next December.



Franco Salza

Associazione Pensionati BANK CRT Torino;

Chairman of Federazione Italiana Pensionati of Banking