Case no 71477/01
The applicants further complained that their obligatory affiliation to the pension scheme amounted to a violation of their right to freedom of association under Article 11 of the Convention taken on its own and in conjunction with Articles 14, 17 and 18 of the Convention.
The Court reiterates that institutions of a public-law character do not constitute associations within the meaning of Article 11 (see Le Compte, Van Leuven and De Meyere v. Belgium, judgment of 23 June 1981, Series A no. 43, § 64; and Sigurður A. Sigurjónsson v. Iceland, judgment of 30 June 1993, Series A no. 264, § 30). The term “association” has an autonomous meaning, the classification in national law has only relative value and constitutes no more than a starting point (see Chassagnou and Others v. France [GC], nos. 25088/94, 28331/95 and 28443/95, § 101, ECHR 1999‑III ).
The Court notes that the old-age pension scheme has been introduced by the legislature as a public law institution. It pursues an aim which is in the general interest, namely to provide for employees’ old age. Under these circumstances, the Court finds that the old-age pension scheme cannot be considered as an association within the meaning of Article 11.
It follows that Article 14 is not applicable with respect to this complaint.back