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Europe in Strasbourg

AMICALE OFFICE

President: Denis HUBER

Co-President: Nathalie VERNEAU

Vice-President: Ellen FOURNIER

Treasurer: Catherine GUERRERO

Executive Secretary: Renée MORITZ

Elected Members: Keltoum BELAID, Alla HEITZ, Janis SYMONS

SECRETARIAT

AGORA - Office A1.09V
+33(0)3 88 41 32 66 
amicale@coe.int

 

HORAIRES D'OUVERTURE : 

Du lundi au vendredi :

- de 9h30 à 12h30

- 14h00 à 17h00.

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PRESENTATION OF THE AMICALE

Amicale du conseil de l'europe

INTERVIEW

with Denis Huber, President of the Amicale.

Executive Secretary of the Pompidou Group, President of the literary association Book1, guitarist and singer in the 12 Stars Band, the current President of the Staff Association of the Council of Europe Denis Huber, is on all fronts. Involved, devoted to the causes he brilliantly defends, discover the history of the Amicale, which today has more than 2000 members of 47 different nationalities.  

 

From the Staff Association to the Amicale

"The ancestor of the Amicale has existed almost since the creation of the Council of Europe in the 1950s. Created by its officials, this association, modelled on the model of a Staff Committee, had a twofold objective: to manage the rights and interests of the staff and to promote cohesion and solidarity among its members. To this end, various social and cultural events were organised.

In the 1970s, the decision was taken to split this association into two parts: a Staff Committee on the one hand and an Amicale Association on the other. While the first was responsible for defending the rights and interests of the staff before the "political decision-making bodies, i.e. the Secretary General and the Committee of Ministers", the second had a more convivial aspect. The aim was to "create the link" by bringing together "the community of staff members and their families through social and cultural activities", Denis Huber explained.

This split, however, came up against many difficulties. While the Staff Committee enjoyed a legal existence and therefore a regulatory framework thanks to its integration into the Council of Europe's Staff Regulations, the Amicale, on the contrary, depended on the "good will" of its members. It was necessary "to remind staff members each year to pay their membership fees".

"The ancestor of the Amicale has existed almost since the creation of the Council of Europe in the 1950s. Created by its officials, this association, modelled on the model of a Works Council, had a twofold objective: to manage the rights and interests of the staff and to promote cohesion and solidarity among its members. To this end, various social and cultural events were organised.

In the 1970s, the decision was taken to split this association into two parts: a Staff Committee on the one hand and an "Amicale" Association on the other. While the first was responsible for defending the rights and interests of the staff before the "political decision-making bodies, i.e. the Secretary General and the Committee of Ministers", the second had a more convivial aspect. The aim was to "create the link" by bringing together "the community of staff members and their families through social and cultural activities", Denis Huber explained.

This split, however, came up against many difficulties. While the Staff Committee enjoyed a legal existence and therefore a regulatory framework thanks to its integration into the Council of Europe's Staff Regulations, the Amicale, on the contrary, depended on the "good will" of its members. It was necessary "to remind staff members each year to pay their membership fees".

 

The birth of the "Nouvelle Amicale"

 

Freshly elected President of the Staff Committee in 2001, Denis Huber was approached by Amicale officials who told him about the "serious crisis" the Association was going through. Apart from the few volunteers "ready to get involved", they deplored the time devoted to soliciting staff members to contribute financially to the association.

A joint reflection was therefore carried out with Yann De Buyer, who chaired the Amicale at the time, in order to find a positive outcome to this situation. It was thus decided to undertake a "profound reform" which would be based on three main axes: "to give a legal existence to the Amicale", "to group together all the structures which existed in parallel at the time, such as the Sports Association or the Women's Amicale under the same roof" and to establish the de facto membership of the staff members unless the latter wished to do otherwise.

The first point was resolved by means of a decree of the Secretary General. Nor did the second point pose any difficulties either, enabling the various existing entities to "benefit from the roof of the Amicale and thus from a legal existence within the Council of Europe, while "retaining their autonomy". The de facto membership of the staff members in the Amicale, unless they wished to do otherwise, the "famous opting-out" was criticised. These criticisms focused in particular on the fact that one cannot "oblige the agents to be members of an association if they do not wish to be".

To resolve the controversy, Denis Huber proposed at the 2003 General Staff Meeting to hold a referendum on 5 June 2003.

 

The establishment of a "collective identity".

 

 The outcome of the vote was indisputable: "90% of the agents voted in favour of the creation of the New Friendship, including the 3 parameters indicated". It is in this context that, on 1 January 2004, the "new Amicale" was officially christened.

"It was necessary to build everything, to give a collective existence to this Committee while respecting the autonomy of each of the sections" explains Denis Huber. The creation of a "collective identity" was possible thanks to the creation of numerous events such as the "back-to-school evening", the Christmas party for children at Europa Park or the "discovery evenings of the member states of the Council of Europe".

The music section has also been given a new impetus with, in particular, the creation of a show in homage to Georges Brassens, sung in different European languages, which took place in front of a packed Council of Europe hemicycle in March 2006. The success of the show was such that several other concerts were held at UNESCO in February 2007 in Belgrade, in July 2007 and in Lisbon in March 2010. A CD and a DVD of the show were recorded and broadcast.

Denis Huber was President of the Amicale until his departure to Belgrade in 2006. Simon Palmer, Emmanuel Lhéritier then Saida Théophile successively assumed the Presidency, each one bringing his own contribution to the building. Some very nice initiatives were born, notably the creation of the Council's Christmas Market or the setting up of commercial partners.

 

From 400 to more than 2000 members

 

The automatic membership of the agents had an extremely positive effect on the development of the Amicale. In addition to the creation of a full-time job as secretary, it allowed the association to contribute to the development of its activities by awarding grants. Thus the number of language sections increased to 17 and sections were created in various fields: literary, musical, sports. In addition to this, a large space was made available in the Agora building in 2009 to provide classrooms.

 

L'Amicale, "a bridge between the Council of Europe and the people of Strasbourg"

 

As one of the missions of the Amicale is "to promote the Council of Europe in its host city and region", the possibility for outsiders to participate in its activities has been facilitated by the introduction of dual sponsorship of Council of Europe staff. Still in this perspective of openness, many partnerships have been set up: with the European Parliamentary Association, the MESA, the European Movement Alsace, the Lieu d'Europe, the Press Club... these last ones bring, according to the President, "undeniable advantages for the Amicale".

The President, who hopes to be able to count on the involvement of new volunteers to perpetuate this wonderful initiative, is very proud of the positive impact of the Amicale on the lives of its members: "People discover themselves in ways other than through their professional functions. This is all the more important as this is not a classic community. We are one big family made up of 47 different nationalities! ».

 


Amicale du conseil de l'europe

THE MEMBERS OF THE AMICALE

The Staff Association of the Council of Europe has 2,000 members.

These are mainly the staff of the European institutions based in Strasbourg, including: the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, the European Mediator and Diplomatic Missions.

It also includes external members: instructors who teach certain activities, non-institutional partners as well as persons sponsored by two members of the Amicale.