Open letter to the Commissioner for Budget and Administration
Dear Mr. Johannes Hahn,
we are an Association, named “Articolo32”, which has been set up at Ispra by employees and pensioners of the European Institutions (E.I.). Articolo32 is legally registered. It already counts hundreds of members: a number that is increasing day by day. Its scope is to defend the health protection rights of the E.I.’s employees and pensioners. It is now involved with the analysis and a viable proposal concerning the serious problem related to the withdrawal of the standard access cards (Tessere Sanitarie – TS) to the Servizio Sanitario Nazionale (SSN) in Italy. This matter potentially impacts on thousands of employees/pensioners: this open letter will equally be sent to all of them.
We already expressed our concerns to you in our note dated 31/03/2022 (see annex I), which has remained unanswered. However, we think it is our duty to reiterate our worries to you, both as European citizens as well as Commission’s employees and to ensure that you are duly and fully informed with complete and reliable information: you represent the Commission and you hold the political responsibility. We are puzzled by the confusion around a fundamental and inviolable right. We are even more surprised on how this matter is further degenerating.
We read your answer to a question raised in the European Parliament (ENE-001273/2022 del 25.5.2022). You wrote “... JSIS affiliates have no right to be inscribed to a national social security system, even in their member state of origin …".
We were deeply surprised by this statement and could only imagine that is due to the fact that essential and vital information might have not been properly reported to you, because:
- It does not at all corresponds to the juridical situation in force; It does not respect laws, rules, regulation in force and related sentences … unless you refer to the pension aspects instead of referring to the health protection service (two different things),
- It is in total contradiction to what the administrative services of the Commission have been communicating for years to the JSIS affiliates.
On this last point, in case the PMO did not inform you, please, note that we refer to the administrative services’ communications such as the following one, transmitted some years ago “En application de l’Article 72 du Statut, vous êtes obligatoirement couvert par le Régime Commun d’Assurance Maladie (RCAM). Ceci n’exclut pas que dans les pays où il existe un système de santé basé sur la résidence, comme c’est le cas en Italie, mais également au Royaume-Uni, au Danemark, etc., les fonctionnaires résidant dans ce pays puissent également bénéficier des prestations de ces régimes...”
We recognise that the above was a correct communication, because it reflects the laws and regulations in force. Furthermore, it has been confirmed not only by our analysis, but also by legal opinions. We quote, in particular, the opinion released by the Ordinary Professors of Constitutional Right and of Administrative Right in the University of Milan. Moved by the spirit of a loyal institutional collaboration, we attach this authoritative juridical opinion to the present letter (see annex 2).
The recent motion from Regione Lombardia (14/06/2022) confirms both the legal opinion delivered by our lawyers as well as the past referred communications. As declared by the President of the Health Committee of the Regione Lombardia, the Tessera Sanitaria (TS) remains “uno strumento essenziale per l’accesso ai trattamenti previsti dal Servizio Sanitario Nazionale (SSN) in Italia e in Europa ed è incomprensibile il ritiro della Tessera Sanitaria ai dipendenti/pensionati delle Istituzioni Europee residenti in Italia, per sostituirla con una Tessera depotenziata, quindi limitata rispetto alla TS standard “.
Summarising, beside all what already illustrated in our previous referred letter,
- The position of the administrative services of the Commission, reminded to the staff in the past,
- The legal opinion of experts, renowned at national and European level in the field of the Constitutional Right and of the Administrative Rights,
- The recent decision of the Council of Regione Lombardia,
are all in perfect agreement when acknowledging to all employees and pensioners of the European Institutions the full right to access the National Health Service (SSN) in Italy, according to the Italian Constitution and according to the Regulations of the European Union in force. We already highlighted that the JSIS Regulation already foresees it, but, apparently, it has been neglected or misunderstood. Each further step on this matter, it simply represents another confirmation of what we are addressing to you.
We do not think it is worth to continue to waste energies on a problem, which de facto is not a real problem, but an artificially created one. A correct reading and analysis of laws and regulations will simply dissolve it. The decision of the Council of Regione Lombardia represents a positive evolution, offering a clear legal frame and, consequently, the opportunity for the Commission and for the European Institutions to reaffirm and safeguard the health protection rights of all their employees and pensioners.
It would be a paradox that, whilst at all levels the fundamental health protection rights are acknowledged, only the Commission’s services deny them, i.e. the same services which are called to safeguard the rights of their own personnel. It seems that the origin of the problem has been caused by misleading information transmitted by the administrative services on the nature of the JSIS. This information stated that JSIS was fully equivalent to the SSN, but the JSIS Regulation clearly states the real nature of JSIS, i.e. a complementary insurance system with partial reimbursement, as well as its possible co-existence with a National Health Service. We do not enter into further details, which, in any case, you can find in the attached legal opinion.
You are aware that the possible transformation of thousands of employees/pensioners into European citizens with limited rights is a serious act, which will unavoidably lead to the Court, not only for the Italian situation, but also for the Danish, the Swedish, the Finnish, the Portuguese, the Spanish, the United Kingdom situations, as recalled in the same communication of the administrative services we mentioned above.
Mr. Commissioner, once again we ask for your intervention to re-establish the right institutional frame, immediately stopping any further PMO initiative meant to replace the TS with a much more limited tool. We are confident that Laws, Regulations, Directives in force are fully respected in the interest of the Commission, of the European Institutions and of their most important resource: their staff.
We thank you for your attention.