Fernando Sanchez Amillategui
25.08.1962 – 30.03.2019
Fernando Sanchez Amillategui – the inspirational founder of Generation 2004 – passed away peacefully in the early hours of last Saturday 30 March.
Fernando, a Spaniard, joined the Commission in 2004 and spent his entire career in the JRC.
Whilst his work in the JRC has been described as exemplary by his hierarchy and colleagues alike, Fernando took also another courageous initiative which has touched the lives of many and indelibly marked the “staff representation” in the European institutions, most notably the Commission.
Indeed, Fernando was the brains and soul behind what started as a tiny group of colleagues, meeting sporadically in various pubs and cafes in the European quarter, and which was eventually to become Generation 2004.
Being a firm believer in justice, fairness and solidarity, Fernando could not simply lie down and take the sheer injustice suffered by staff recruited from May 1st 2004. Indeed, with his undisputed intelligence and professional prowess, it would have probably paid him off more to ‘sit on the fence’, in terms of career advancement and work-life balance, but Fernando was not like that. Money, position, glory … never mattered much to the man, particularly if this meant compromising with his unshakable beliefs and moral convictions.
It was to this end, that Fernando, led a small but determined group of post-2004 colleagues to start raising awareness about the ‘post-2004 problem’ and claiming some sort of redress in the name of justice and solidarity which are meant to be the very cornerstones of the European project.
It was to that end that in 2012, Fernando led that still-small but ever-growing group (which at the time was still not even formally constituted as an association of any sort) to contest the Commission’s local staff committee elections with no budget or resources whatsoever, but with a clear, evidence-based message highlighting (for the first time) the pre/post-2004 divide and calling for urgent and corrective measures. In those elections, coming ‘out of nowhere’, Generation 2004 made a first big impact in the staff representation system returning 6 out of 27 seats in the Brussels local staff committee, much to the surprise (and consternation) of an establishment intent upon preserving the status quo.
Since that historic result, Generation 2004 never looked back and under dedicated members following in Fernando’s footsteps, since 2015 has been the largest staff association in terms of voter representation in the Commission.
Throughout his years as a Commission official, including his parallel activities in Generation 2004, Fernando personified integrity and unconditional loyalty to the institution, even when he felt that the same institution had dealt an unfair hand to himself and his peers. Fernando’s ‘weapon’ was his rational, always-well-substantiated arguments … which often could only be ‘countered’ by claims that he was ‘a dreamer’, ‘an idealist’ or ‘a visionary’ at best, or ‘plain crazy’ or ‘mad’ at worst! Whatever, even in the face of the occasional personal attack, Fernando’s reaction was always in the form of a calm and reasoned argument, devoid of any toxicity whatsoever.
On a more personal level, Fernando was a genuinely good soul, always there for friends and strangers alike, often seemingly humbled and bemused as to why so many people looked up to him for leadership and advice. To those who had the privilege of knowing him closer, Fernando was the type of friend you hope to have at least once in a lifetime. He was all about “the others” – human or animal alike – often without a scant consideration for his own self, right until his untimely end … literally.
Lastly, Fernando was a philosopher, a poet of sorts and a searcher with an insatiable appetite for knowledge. He was a lover of life, in all its forms and a firm believer in the goodness of his fellow men. You were a beautiful mind, a beautiful heart and a beautiful soul; that was what you were dear Fernando. You may be physically gone, but your spirit shall live in many, much more than you could have ever imagined.
Fly high dearest friend!
Generation 2004 would like to thank Ms. SOUKA, Director General of DG HR, for her kind and warm condolences messge as well as to anyone else who also sent us their messages of sympathy and condolence on the passing of our founder and colleague.
Message from the Generation 2004 Councilium section:
What happened makes us think once again that are the best among us those who depart first. Fernando has been one of the highest examples of cleverness, altruism and endurance. He had the courage that many others did not have. Farewell Fernando, we’re sure that we will meet again.
Generation 2004 Consilium section