French National Service for teenagers - applications now open

The Local
The Local - [email protected] • 17 Feb, 2020 Updated Mon 17 Feb 2020 14:02 CEST
French National Service for teenagers - applications now open

Teenagers may now apply for admission to the new French National Service scheme - before it becomes compulsory for all young people.


The Service national universel (universal national service) was first introduced last year as a trial period after Emmanuel Macron made it a campaign promise while on the election trail back in 2017.

It received a fairly mixed reception when it was first launched, with many complaining that it served little practical purpose, but now applications are open for summer 2022.

The scheme is being trialled on a volunteer basis and is expected to become compulsory for all French teenagers by 2022-2023.

READ ALSO France's new National Service for teenagers explained

Photo: AFP

The scheme is open to any French resident aged between 15 and 17.

The national service is done in three stages, first a two-week camp in a département other than the one they live in with sports and general activities including useful life skills life first aid and map reading. The young people wear a uniform for this stage.

They then go home and begin phase two, which takes place over a year and involves a minimum of 84 hours volunteering with community groups, local charities or organisations or the armed forces.

The third stage is optional and involves a further voluntary mission of between three months and one year.

At the end of it, teenagers who have successfully completed the programme get a certificate presented to them at their local préfecture.

Recruitment is open until April 3rd on the official SNU website.

Originally the national service was imagined as something more resembling a traditional military service, until the French army said it didn't have the capacity to deal with hundreds of thousands of teenagers each summer.

The current programme is based around civic service and acquiring useful life skills.

Macron has billed the service as a way to develop patriotism and social cohesion in a country battling deep divisions between left and right, rich and poor, and religious and non-religious.

Last summer 4,000 young people applied for the 2,000 volunteer places on the trial phase of the programme.

France scrapped compulsory military service in 1997, and Macron is the first French president not to have completed the military service.




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