The "universal national service" for young people introduced in France in 2019 could become compulsory according to the government's will.
The Ministry of Education wants to gradually make the one-month service compulsory for all French people aged 15 to 17, the France Info broadcaster reported. The Élysée Palace wants to decide in the spring how to proceed with the voluntary service launched by President Emmanuel Macron. The aim of the service is to promote the participation of young people "in the life of the nation".
Two weeks of service are spent away from the home region in shared accommodation with a tight daily routine and in uniform-like clothing - including in the army. During the service, the young people should be introduced to security and defense issues, be won over to public service or charitable commitments. This is followed by 84 hours of community service at the place of residence. The service can also be extended voluntarily by a three-month assignment in the armed forces, the police or the fire brigade. In 2022, 32,000 young people completed national service.
criticism from the Greens
Criticism of a possible compulsory service came from France's Greens. A strictly military service without the possibility of conscientious objection is emerging, the EELV party said on Friday. The indignation of the younger generation due to ecological and social grievances is countered with military discipline. The young people were happy to forgo having "the values of the Republic" drummed into them with military drills. France suspended conscription in 1997.
The Ministry of Defense on Friday gave an insight into the deployment of 27 young people as part of their national service at the prestigious Saint Cyr Coëtquidan military academy. The program included sports activities such as obstacle courses and camping in the field with combat rations. This military preparation shows the will of the army to get closer to young people and to contribute to the development of national cohesion, it said.