The French parliament recently adopted an amendment to an “Equality & Citizenship” bill that will introduce a civic service obligation for thousands of young people between ages 18 to 25. In a time when young people demand more freedom and restrictions on them have been lifted all throughout Europe, this measure proves France’s insufferable obsession with control.
The amendment that has been introduced and approved by the French National Assembly makes a major change to the efforts of president François Hollande to make civic service more widespread to teach ‘the values of the Republic’ by simply making it compulsory for everyone. The proposed plan would force young people from the age of 18 to attend a so called ‘republican class’ after finishing secondary school, that for a length of three months. The purpose of this class will be to teach the fundamental values of the French state.
In a second step, a six months period that can be divided into two three month periods, the classic civil service will be made mandatory as well. That means that up until the age of 25, young people have to get engaged with either an NGO or a government institution (municipalities, regional administrations, ministries etc.). The government has announced that it favours this amendment.
This decision will now be submitted to the Senate before it will return to parliament, but it has a clear chance of passing both houses. France will then become the first country in Europe to introduce a mandatory civil service (if we exclude mandatory military service).
It is a sign of desperation at least. With the trust in government at a record low, the country being paralised by the still ongoing strikes and the repeated threat of terrorism, the political class tries to make sure that the next generation is being made obedient to authority beyond classic state education. What masquerates itself as a measure to teach respect for the rule of law is nothing but another drain on the creativity and freedom of choice of young people:
9 months of their time, instead of spending it on their dreams, careers, hobbies or leisure, is to be devoted to government. Instead of being the entrepreneurs of their life, young people will get taught that becoming a civil servant is a virtue that will benefit their neighbours.
All this in a country where the army of civil servants is soon to be 6 million and where more than half of your income goes to government. What could possibly go wrong?
Pictures are Creative Commons.
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